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This blog used to be about politics. Not so much anymore as I have worked through my fascination with that subject. It now seems appropriate that with a new president and the end of the Bush nightmare that I move on to new subjects that are more in line with my current interests. I may still occasionally express an opinion about political matters but for the most part I will be commenting on music, photography and personal observations. Thank you for reading.

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Protected from Reality
In comments, Lotharbot made this assertion:

The point is, the study was designed by people who hold the exact same opinion as you -- they expected Fox News viewers to be misinformed, and they asked questions about events where Fox News viewers tend to be misinformed.

And I'm not going to pick on Lotharbot, because I love debate, and I'm glad that he's here to give me things to think about. But I wanted to take his comment and expound on it.

Here are the questions asked in the survey by PIPA (I linked to the HTML version, and the relevent information is on page 15) that drew the conclusion that FOX news viewers were more likely to be misinformed.

1) Is it your impression that the US has or has not found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al Qaeda terrorist organization? US has.

FOX 67%

2) Since the war with Iraq ended, is it your impression that the US has or has not found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? US has.

FOX 33%

3) Thinking about how all the people in the world feel about the US having gone to war with Iraq, do you think: The majority of people favor the US having gone to war.

FOX 35%

The survey found that FOX News viewers were more likely than other news viewers to believe that the US had found clear evidence that Saddam was working closely with Al Qaeda, that the US had found Iraqi WMDs and that the majority of people in the world favored the US invasion Iraq.

Are these questions designed to take advantage of events where FOX news viewers would tend to be misinformed?

That might just be the case. Because FOX news is intentionally biased. Biased in favor of supporting conservatism, Republicans and President Bush, even if that means giving false impressions about the war and the justifications.

Why Fox News Beats the Mainstream Media

Nowhere does FOX differ more radically from the mainstream television and press than in its robustly pro-U.S. coverage of the war on terror. After September 11,the American flag appeared everywhere, from the lapels of the anchormen to the corner of the screen. Ailes himself wrote to President Bush, urging him to strike back hard against al-Qaeda. On-air personalities and reporters freely referred to "our" troops instead of "U.S. forces," and Islamist "terrorists" and "evildoers" instead of "militants." Such open displays of patriotism are anathema to today's liberal journalists, who see "taking sides" as a betrayal of journalistic objectivity.

[David]Asman demurs. For the free media to take sides against an enemy bent on eradicating the free society itself, he argues, isn't unfair or culturally biased; it is the only possible logical and moral stance. And to call bin Laden a "militant," as Reuters does, is to betray the truth, not uphold it. "Terrorism is terrorism," Asman says crisply. "We know what it is, and we know how to define it, just as our viewers know what it is. So we're not going to play with them: When we see an act of terror, we're going to call it terror." On television news, anyway, FOX alone seemed to grasp this essential point. Says Asman: "CNN, MSNBC, the media generally were not declarative enough in calling a spade a spade."

FOX News was created as a counter-balance to a news media in America perceived to be too liberal. It is intentionally conservative because it feels that the mainstream media is intentionally liberal.

Whether or not you think that the MSM is too liberal depends on who you ask and what you consider to be liberal. I think what irks many about the news media is that their (occasional) refusal to take sides comes across as being anti-american. But personally, I don't see much use for a media that aligns itself with the government. I find Fox News' use of such phrases like "our troops" and "the enemy" as disturbingly Orwellian. The book 1984 scared the shit out of me. It was written as a critique of totalitarian regimes and their use of propaganda to control public opinion. If there is none willing to question the actions of the government or the intentions of the citizenry then what is the media but a self-reinforcing feedback of our own biases and beliefs?

Roger Ailes, the Chairman of Fox News asks, "Can you wake up in the morning without assuming the U.S. is in the wrong?"

The alternative is to wake up in the morning assuming that the U.S. is in the right. But, the constant questioning of your own motives and the tendency for self-examination is what makes a person/nation wise and self-correcting. If you assume that you are always right, then their is always someone else to blame.

Just as it is foolish to always assume that the United States is to blame, it is just as foolish to assume that the United States is always right.

Fox News is a far cry from a real state run propaganda system, but it is a step in that direction. A small step, but one taken deliberately.

If you look at the last question, asking whether the majority of people in the world was in favor of us going into Iraq, the clear answer there is "no". Even in countries that eventually supported us, like Spain, there were large majorities of people who opposed the war. Millions marched in England, our closest partner. To believe that most people in the world supported this war is divorced from reality.

FOX News has an agenda, battling the "liberals" in the MSM. Some people like that agenda, and support FOX with millions of viewers. But their priorities ARE NOT to make their viewers the most informed. They seek to advance an idealogy, conservatism. So its really no surprise that they score so low with regard to accuracy.

So yes, the questions did emphasize events about which FOX viewers tend to be misinformed; reality.

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