ron rothman.ron rothman
selectively conformist

You Are What You Watch

In decreasing order of preference, I’d like my fellow citizens to be:

“A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.”

— Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t be an ignoranus; don’t get your news [solely] from FOX.”

— Ron Rothman, NPR listener and decidedly not an ignoranus

1. informed:

“Iraq is a mess; here’s why….”

2. uninformed:

“I don’t know enough about Iraq to speak intelligently.”

3. misinformed:

“Eye-raq is going great.
God Bless the U.S.A.
U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

So this tidbit caught my eye: it turns out that people who get their so-called news from FOX tend to have a distorted, incorrect and somewhat frightening view of reality. They are, as a group, more misinformed than viewers of any other network.

Now would be a good time to point out that FOX reaches a gazillion people (102,565,710 households, to be exact). And 18% of those gazillion people report that FOX is their only source of news (versus 3% whose sole source is PBS or NPR):

From Where Do You Get Your News?

Two or more networks
30%
FOX
18%
CNN
16%
NBC
14%
ABC
11%
CBS
9%
PBS+NPR
3%

And what those gazillion people hear on FOX is the “fair and balanced” truth. Well, except for those inconvenient times when the truth makes FOX’s right-wing, religious allies look wrong; or stupid; or greedy; or downright criminal. Which is to say, frequently.

Take, for example, the invasion of Iraq:

Weapons of Mass Destruction

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

Incorrectly answered has found:

FOX
33%
PBS+NPR
11%

World Public Opinion

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?

Incorrectly answered Yes:

FOX
35%
PBS+NPR
5%

This is hardly news; the survey is almost 3 years old. Plus, all of this borders on obvious to anyone who has spent a few hours watching FOX.

But if we really are what we watch, then don’t be an ignoranus; don’t get your news [solely] from FOX. I love my country. I don’t want it hijacked by misinformed masses.

4 Responses to “You Are What You Watch” [Leave yours »]

  1. Watching FOX news doesn’t make you stupid. It just doesn’t make you smart. The sad truth is that a large proportion of the American public consists of morons.

    Case in point: on a recent trip to the US, the TSA security people in Los Angeles airport forced me to leave the security area in order to consume the half bottle of water I had accidentally left in my carry on bag rather than consume it in front of them in the security area. When I asked the four security people who had gathered in response to my signs of annoyance if they considered this policy a bit absurd, I watched in disbelief as all four of them shook their heads “no.”

    1
  2. Ron [author of post] said:

    they were probably FOX viewers.

    2
  3. If you think it’s bad in the US, just think about us poor souls in Australia; Rupert Murdoch owns two of the four biggest newspapers in Australia, has 25% ownership of one of the two cable TV suppliers in Australia (which includes 10-15 News Corporation channels) and has had partial ownership of two of the three commercial free to air TV stations at some point in the past. Needless to say, he has had a huge influence on the Australian media, and I’m afraid many of his standards have stuck.

    In Melbourne (and later in Sydney), he launched a daily tabloid called “MX” which is distributed free at all of the city train stations and near the tram stops in the city in the late afternoon. During the evening commute at least half of the passengers on a typical train would be reading a copy on their way home. The paper is typically filled with drivel, but has the capacity to greatly influence popular opinion with its headline stories about Iraq, Osama bin Laden, and al Qaida, among other things.

    I’d like to say that our other sources of news are of higher quality, but I’m afraid that even those that started with high standards have sunken into the abyss of sensationalism and fear mongering.

    3
  4. Ron [author of post] said:

    you’re lucky they didn’t detain you for asking whether their policies were ridiculous. i just came across this:

    “A traveler frustrated with recent changes to airport security procedures found himself detained in Milwaukee after writing a message critical of the TSA’s leader on a plastic bag presented for screening. The message, which read “[TSA Head] Kip Hawley is an Idiot,” resulted in a confrontation with law enforcement, the traveler being told that his right to freedom of speech applied only “out there (pointing past the id checkers) not while in here [the checkpoint].” The story, which is detailed in a rapidly-growing thread on a discussion forum catering to frequent flyers, has attracted the interest of the ACLU, an AP reporter, and many others. The incident raises a number of interesting questions and concerns regarding just where our rights end.”

    (and then, of course, there’s this.)

    4

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