Fox News Viewers the Most Uninformed About Current Events, Including Climate Change

Recently, the Fairleigh Dickinson University came out with a poll confirming something that many of us have probably suspected all along. It stated that Fox News viewers are less informed than people who don’t watch any news at all.

The survey was conducted among 612 New Jersey natives. Fox News watchers were 18 percent less likely to know that Egyptians toppled their government and 6 percent less likely to be aware that Syrians have not yet overthrown theirs. Just 47 percent were able to identify the Occupy Wall Street protesters as predominantly Democratic, while 11 percent thought they were Republican. The most informative outlets were found to be the Sunday morning news shows, The Daily Show by Jon Stewart, as well as outlets like The New York Times, USA Today and NPR. 

The “Fox News Effect” has been widely studied through previous polls and reports. Now there appears to be a confirmation that people who rely on Fox News for their information are the most misinformed about world events as well as scientific truths. This misinformation means that they are more likely to support a right-wing, conservative political agenda.

A 2010 study by the University of Maryland found that Fox News viewers were more likely to believe false information about politics. The network took the top 10 spots in the age 25–54 demographic and the top 12 spots among total viewers in 2010. This means it has a tremendous ability to influence opinion on current events including climate change with a key demographic.

According to their CSR policies, which are pretty progressive, Fox News is committed to reducing carbon emissions. Its parent company, News Corp, is one of the first channels to go carbon neutral and Fox boasts the first television show, 24, to go completely carbon neutral. However when it comes to reporting about climate change, Fox News was both the least accepting of, and most likely to be dismissive of, this global phenomenon. According to the study, nearly 60 percent of Fox News broadcasts were dismissive of climate change, whereas less than 20 percent were accepting of climate change. In comparison, 70 percent of CNN and MSNBC broadcasts were accepting of climate change.

This disparity between what they do and what they promote is huge. It casts serious doubt on their CSR activities and efforts to become more sustainable because their own journalists employ a very dismissive attitude about climate change. Fox News journalists are often told by executives to take a skeptical view on climate change when they could use their considerable influence to give scientific facts and encourage millions of people to take action.

Apart from environmental news, Fox News viewers are also likely to be misinformed about health care reform, religion, gay rights, abortion, national and foreign policy, elections, immigration, education and budget issues. With such an enormous list of news topics and sphere of influence, Fox has the responsibility to report with integrity as they are one of the leading news channels. However, because they are supported by conservative political candidates and sponsors, it is unlikely that they will be changing their ideological substance any time soon.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net