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Tuesday, December 21, 2010
NewsBusters Claims 'Errors' In Fox Study, Doesn't Cite Any
Topic: NewsBusters

a Dec. 20 NewsBusters post by Lachlan Markay carries the headline, "'Study' Claiming Fox News Viewers 'Misinformed' Is Fraught With Errors." But Markay doesn't identify any actual errors.

The study in question is by the University of Maryland's World Public Opinion project, which examines misinformation in the 2010 midterm elections. Among its finding was that, as summarized by the project:

Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), the economy is getting worse (26 points), most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), their own income taxes have gone up (14 points), the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points). The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it--though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.

Rather than identify "errors," Markay attacks a couple of the study's premises. First, he's indignant that anyone would trust the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office regarding whether the stimulus created jobs. He insists that "CBO's numbers have no basis in reality, as I have reported a number of times before. They are based on models that assume stimulus spending will create growth and employment, and hence the success of this particular stimulus package is predetermined. The blind faith the study puts in CBO's numbers suggest that it is quite eager to pass them off ipso facto as truth. That says a lot about WPO's perspective on the issue, and their politics generally."

That's not an error.

Markay goes on to quote Baltimore Sun quibbling that the study assumed that an "informed" person "is essentially someone who agrees with the conclusions of experts in government agencies." That's not an error either; that's a question about methodology.

Still, the UMD study's methodology is much more rigid than any given study done by the parent of the blog where Markay posts.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:27 PM EST

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