Chris Wallace interviewed Jon Stewart on Fox News Sunday. I'm not a regular viewer of either Chris Wallace or Jon Stewart, but it's worth watching the full interview, especially if you're a Fox viewer who happened to miss it.
Because if you're a Fox viewer you may not be disappointed with the network, as Chris Wallace brags, but you are still misinformed, as Jon Stewart laments. And that's a shame. Misinformed voters make bad decisions. And politicians who get elected by misinforming voters don't have your best interests at heart, it turns out.
Still don't think you're misinformed, but that Fox News gives you the "real" news that the rest of the media is too liberal to present? Steve Benen points to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes that finds:
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)
Don't think it was only Fox News that earns Jon Stewart's contempt; he has little respect for other 24 hour news networks as well. He points out they exist for 9/11—the big, breaking news story that affects everyone and that everyone ought to drop what they're doing and immediately tune in to.
This gets to the heart of the problem, that networks are in the business of making money, and the only way they can get viewers, thus increase their ratings and profits, is to sensationalize what news stories there are. I didn't see wall to wall coverage of Weinergate, but I understand it happened, just as the US networks aired much more coverage of the royal wedding than the networks here. Two subjects that affect very few, if any, Americans. (Hint: If you can put a "gate" on the end of it, it's probably not worth your time.)
I'm sure you could come up with many examples where the media, and in particular Fox News, prefers to cover wieners and weddings rather than, say, the economy and unemployment and the actual provisions of the ACA. To get facts about the Affordable Care Act you have to go to bloggers like Ezra Klein at The Washington Post, or Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic.
Fortunately those people exist, because for some of us, ignorance is not bliss. I really like knowing that my taxes won't go up when the rest of America gets health care, including my 22-year old daughter. I like knowing that I won't have to pay more taxes if I sell my house. I like being able to read a Nobel laureate's analysis of the Eurozone's financial difficulties, even though I have no idea what the Taylor rule is. I don't like knowing that most scientists agree that climate change is occuring (and call me a snob, but I think peer-reviewed studies are worth more than someone's opinion when it comes to science).
This is the sort of stuff—the sort of truthiness—that doesn't get covered on Fox News, and gets short shrift on other networks as well. It's ironic, but not surprising, that it takes a comedian to point this out.
Mark Twain would be proud.