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View Full Version : Are Fox News and MSNBC Leading To a ‘Less-Informed But More Opinionated Public’?



PoliCon
01-01-2011, 11:37 AM
By Alex Weprin on December 30, 2010 2:25 PM

Former CBS Marketwatch CEO Larry Kramer blogs about MSNBC and Fox News on his blog, C-Scape. In a nutshell, Kramer argues that today’s busy media consumer, lacking the time to dig in to issues themselves, instead relies on cognitive shortcuts to familiarize themselves with what the “correct” opinions are, based on their preexisting ideology.

In Kramer’s opinion, Fox News and MSNBC are at the heart of this problem, which he says is “a bad thing for democracy” and leads to a “less-informed but more opinionated public.”

It is, frankly, easier for someone to turn on either Fox News or MSNBC, listen to the frequent opinion expressed, right or left, and benchmark themselves against that opinion rather than forming their own opinion based on independent thinking.

So if a new Supreme Court Justice was named tomorrow, more people would check out what Fox and MSNBC said about him or her, and then quickly decide whether or not they were in favor or opposed to approving the candidate. “If Fox (or MSNBC) like him, so do I,” a viewer can decide, (or the opposite) based totally on that viewer’s political stance and how it relates to Fox or MSNBC.

Kramer is an incredibly smart and well-respected TV executive, but in this case he seems to miss the mark in at least two ways:

First: the problem of opinion fragmentation and people going to outlets that reinforce their existing beliefs is hardly a new phenomenon. If the problem has gotten worse over the last few years, it is more likely to be due to the Internet than an ideological shift in TV news.

The Web has thousands of politically and ideologically charged websites of every stripe, allowing people with similar tastes and opinions to get the news they are interested in, through the filter they find most palatable.

This leads to the second point: most people in this country do not watch cable news.

On any given weekday night in primetime, an average of around four million people watch MSNBC, Fox News and CNN combined. By comparison, approximately 80 million people watch TV in primetime on any given weekday.

The top program on cable news this year was FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” which was viewed by just over three million people on average.

Even assuming that plenty of people don’t tune in every day but still watch occasionally, the actual number of regular TV viewers that watch any of the cable news channels is tiny compared to the vastly more popular entertainment and sports programming available across the dial.

In other words, the viewership of cable news–while vocal and loyal–is probably too small to be directly responsible for a less-informed public. Apathy or the Internet are far more likely culprits, assuming you agree with Kramer’s supposition in the first place.


http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/are-fox-news-and-msnbc-leading-to-a-less-informed-but-more-opinionated-public_b45927

Novaheart
01-01-2011, 12:07 PM
consumer, lacking the time to dig in to issues themselves, instead relies on cognitive shortcuts to familiarize themselves with what the “correct” opinions are, based on their preexisting ideology.

Yes they do, and they assume that whomever their favorite news/opinion presenter has a consistent point of view. Then it starts to take on team dynamics, or perhaps more accurately to express the team dynamics which weren't evident when the news was being presented objectively.

The real problem is that there is no announcement when they are switching from news to opinion, from fact to supposition. That's how you end up with people who sincerely believe that they know something, that that something has been validated by national news, and that it happens to be in agreement with their beliefs.

Amy Goodman, who calls what she does "real news" or "free speech news" is a chief offender. I wanted to reach through the radio and strangle the bitch when she was in Haiti. Right off the bat, she as much as accused the US of seizing and occupying Haiti under the ruse of charity and rescue.

PoliCon
01-01-2011, 12:09 PM
Did you bother to read to the end of the article?
In other words, the viewership of cable news–while vocal and loyal–is probably too small to be directly responsible for a less-informed public. Apathy or the Internet are far more likely culprits, assuming you agree with Kramer’s supposition in the first place.

AmPat
01-01-2011, 12:22 PM
So if a new Supreme Court Justice was named tomorrow, more people would check out what Fox and MSNBC said about him or her, and then quickly decide whether or not they were in favor or opposed to approving the candidate. “If Fox (or MSNBC) like him, so do I,” a viewer can decide, (or the opposite) based totally on that viewer’s political stance and how it relates to Fox or MSNBC.As opposed to the former legacy, ABC networks who "gave" viewers their opinions?:rolleyes:

Wei Wu Wei
01-01-2011, 12:35 PM
Absolutely. Most people I talk to are nonpoliticAl but most ofthe political types seem to rely on cable news or their online variants and are extremely confident and ready to aggressively argue something they know very little about. Also, people seem to believe that t's better to "hold your ground" in a discussion, thinking that admitting ignorance or giving oneself a chance to learn is some sign of weakness.

AmPat
01-01-2011, 12:49 PM
Absolutely. Most people I talk to are nonpoliticAl but most ofthe political types seem to rely on cable news or their online variants and are extremely confident and ready to aggressively argue something they know very little about. Also, people seem to believe that t's better to "hold your ground" in a discussion, thinking that admitting ignorance or giving oneself a chance to learn is some sign of weakness.

Please send this to Stupidicus in a PM:cool::eek:

MrsSmith
01-01-2011, 01:12 PM
Absolutely. Most people I talk to are nonpoliticAl but most ofthe political types seem to rely on cable news or their online variants and are extremely confident and ready to aggressively argue something they know very little about. Also, people seem to believe that t's better to "hold your ground" in a discussion, thinking that admitting ignorance or giving oneself a chance to learn is some sign of weakness.

I actually agree with this. Every Democrat I know has an extreme viewpoint...and none of them read, they all watch MSNBC or CNN, or quote some comedian for their news source. On the other hand, every thoughtful person I know that reads and studies the issues votes Republican.

Madisonian
01-01-2011, 05:23 PM
I could not say one way or another on this since you could count the annual cumulative hours I see Fox, MSNBC,CNN or non cable national news on one hand with fingers to spare.

I have yet to see any talking head network that does not spin the facts of any situation to fall in line with their demographics.

PoliCon
01-01-2011, 07:03 PM
The unbiased media is a myth. From the very birth of this country the media has been biased and rightfully so. News papers during the War for independence all had either a Tory or a patriot slant to their news coverage. During the Civil War Lincoln shut down papers that did were pro-south. During WWI and WWII news media was expected to support the US war effort and were barred from running stories that would have been damaging to that effort.

I'm left wondering how the myth of the unbiased media came to be in the first place. Did it first come to play during the Vietnam era? Was it perpetrated to disguise the blatant bias of the media towards the left in their coverage of the Vietnam war? Or does it go back to Korea? Either way - I'm inclined to believe that should we trace the roots of the claim there will be communist sympathizers at the heart . . . .

Starbuck
01-01-2011, 11:33 PM
Absolutely. Most people I talk to are nonpoliticAl but most ofthe political types seem to rely on cable news or their online variants and are extremely confident and ready to aggressively argue something they know very little about. Also, people seem to believe that t's better to "hold your ground" in a discussion, thinking that admitting ignorance or giving oneself a chance to learn is some sign of weakness.

I find myself in agreement here. Given the choice, most people would rather win an argument than get the facts right.


I actually agree with this. Every Democrat I know has an extreme viewpoint...and none of them read, they all watch MSNBC or CNN, or quote some comedian for their news source. On the other hand, every thoughtful person I know that reads and studies the issues votes Republican.
And yet isn't it strange that we Republicans are regarded as the stupid party; the ones who are uninformed, and easily duped by the evil Republican leaders.

MrsSmith
01-02-2011, 07:28 AM
I find myself in agreement here. Given the choice, most people would rather win an argument than get the facts right.


And yet isn't it strange that we Republicans are regarded as the stupid party; the ones who are uninformed, and easily duped by the evil Republican leaders.It's not strange given the high percentage of moonbats in the media, in higher-level education, and in Hollywood. Conservatives tend to hold real jobs or own businesses, thereby not having as great an effect on "popular culture." One of the greatest assets of radio and the internet is the evening out of this discourse...at least until Congress gets around to outlawing free speech in more ways...

Novaheart
01-02-2011, 12:49 PM
It's not strange given the high percentage of moonbats in the media, in higher-level education, and in Hollywood. Conservatives tend to hold real jobs or own businesses, thereby not having as great an effect on "popular culture." One of the greatest assets of radio and the internet is the evening out of this discourse...at least until Congress gets around to outlawing free speech in more ways...

That would be true of every major political group in the US. Sure, different groups might be concentrated a bit in select areas but overall your statement would be equally true of liberals as conservatives.

You probably live in a nice area. I live in a somewhat iffy area. I can take you around and show you plenty of moonbats, but I can also show you a bunch of conservatives who are total losers as well.

Molon Labe
01-02-2011, 01:01 PM
Yes.

PoliCon
01-02-2011, 01:17 PM
Yes. someone clearly didn't bother to read the article. :rolleyes:

Molon Labe
01-02-2011, 02:28 PM
someone clearly didn't bother to read the article. :rolleyes:

lol. I was answering the main premise of the question.

And the conclusion of the article is still wrong. the answer is still Yes.

PoliCon
01-02-2011, 02:37 PM
lol. I was answering the main premise of the question.

And the conclusion of the article is still wrong. the answer is still Yes.

The size of their audience is not enough to account for the growth in ignorance.

Molon Labe
01-02-2011, 03:08 PM
The size of their audience is not enough to account for the growth in ignorance.

The amount of TV in and of itself that the average person engages in today grows ignorance.

You simply cannot underestimate the influence tv news shows have on the way people think. Very few people actually read anymore...they just catch whats going on in blips and soundbites. That's what TV is designed for. That's what news "shows" are designed to do.

Without reading about things, people simply know "of" lots of things. Not ever really knowing "about" them.

So yes, that most people get their news of the day from TV shows is an indicator of ignorance so I disagree with the premise outright

You should read this book.

From "How to watch TV News"


8 recommendations for what to do when watching news:

1. In encountering a news show, you must come with a firm idea of what is important.

2. In preparing to watch a TV news show, keep in mind that it is called a ‘show.

3. Never underestimate the power of commercials.

4. Learn something about the economic and political interests of those who run TV stations.

5. Pay special attention to the language of newscasts.

6. Reduce by at least one-third the amount of TV news you watch.

7. Reduce by one third the number of opinions you feel obligated to have

8. Do whatever you can to get schools interested in teaching children how to watch a TV news show

PoliCon
01-02-2011, 04:24 PM
The amount of TV in and of itself that the average person engages in today grows ignorance.

You simply cannot underestimate the influence tv news shows have on the way people think. Very few people actually read anymore...they just catch whats going on in blips and soundbites. That's what TV is designed for. That's what news "shows" are designed to do.

Without reading about things, people simply know "of" lots of things. Not ever really knowing "about" them.

So yes, that most people get their news of the day from TV shows is an indicator of ignorance so I disagree with the premise outright

You should read this book.

From "How to watch TV News"

Dumbass - the article is dealing strictly with two news outlets who are being blamed for the whole kit and caboodle not TV or TV news in general. :rolleyes: