If you ever assumed that Americans who watch or listen to conservative news outlets are better informed on topics in the news, you would be correct.
That is not anecdotal. It is a proven fact.
According to a new poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports for The Heartland Institute, “There is a strong correlation between a likely voter’s favorite television news outlet and his or her understanding of basic facts about important topics in the news.”
The poll asked 1,000 likely voters a series of questions about a wide variety of news events and which news outlets they prefer.
Here are a few overall highlights from the poll.
“Generally speaking, respondents who identified CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC as their ‘favorite’ TV news outlet were more likely to incorrectly answer questions about the national debt, the income tax rate paid by the wealthy, and the percentage of the population that’s uninsured than the viewers of Fox News or ‘another’ cable or network news station (such as The Blaze TV or Newsmax).”
“Our survey also seems to indicate that those who do not watch cable news or network news are more likely to answer our questions about the news accurately than the viewers of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC.”
“Although viewers of Fox News and other cable networks were most likely to correctly select the percentage of the U.S. population without health care coverage, a sizeable percentage of these audiences also underestimated the size of the insured population (82%).”
By far, the biggest takeaway from the poll is that one’s knowledge about factual news events is directly correlated with their media preferences. And vice-versa.
For instance, when likely voters were asked what the national debt of the United States currently stands at (answer: $28 trillion), “69% of CBS viewers and 65% of NBC viewers underestimated the national debt, compared to 44% for those who said they don’t watch network news.”
Astonishingly, “30% of CNN viewers and 32% of CBS viewers said the national debt was only $5 trillion or less.”
On the other hand, those who receive their news from conservative media “were most likely to accurately identify the national debt, with 35% and 37%, respectfully, making the correct selection.”
So, why does this matter? Well, it matters because the mainstream liberal media, especially the network news and CNN and MSNBC, are getting the facts wrong (purposefully, in most cases) to perpetuate their preferred, but false, narrative.
And, as a result of this, millions of Americans are woefully misinformed on a number of basic, unequivocal facts.
This does not bode well for the future of the country.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”
By this, Jefferson was not strictly speaking about an educated citizenry in terms of mathematics, physics, philosophy, etc. Rather, Jefferson was referring to a citizenry that was “educated” about the events of the day, including social, economic, and political issues.
Jefferson, like so many others before and after him, understood the notion that a democracy cannot function properly when a majority of its citizens are aloof, apathetic, and ignorant.
However, that seems to be what is happening in America. As more Americans rely on the mainstream liberal media for information, the more unenlightened and unknowledgeable they become.
That is a troubling trend. The more the mainstream liberal media indoctrinate their viewers and listeners with ideology over facts and data, the less cohesive our country becomes as well.
For decades, the mainstream liberal media have abandoned their role as the Fourth Estate. They are no longer the guardians of facts. For they have become politicized.
And as John Adams reminds us, facts matter, above all else.
According to Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Most interestingly, Adams said that as he was defending the British soldiers who were at trial for their actions in the Boston Massacre. Although the American press at the time portrayed the soldiers as instigating the so-called massacre, the facts told a different story.
Eventually, the facts triumphed. Six of the eight British soldiers were found not guilty. Two were convicted of manslaughter.
In the case of the Boston Massacre, the facts won in the end.
Will the facts continue to triumph? Or will the mainstream liberal media’s false narrative triumph? Only time will tell.
Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.