Yesterday was just an awful day for Joe Biden.
The Quinnipiac poll released yesterday shows Biden, as my colleague Nick Arama stated, circling the drain. With a 33 percent approval rating, Biden’s numbers are worse than any number Trump had during his four-year term as President, and I’m not entirely sure that this is his floor, either.
Now, to be completely fair, the Quinnipiac poll is currently an outlier. Most recent polls still have him hovering in the low 40s. A couple more start coming out, we won’t know for certain that this is a true read of the voting public. But, it is certainly keeping up with the trend, as we see at RealClearPolitics. There was a bit of an approval spike in mid-December, but it’s been all downhill ever since with no end in sight.
CNN’s Brian Stelter referenced the poll on Twitter yesterday, quoting a portion of it concerning the January 6 riot.
Quinnipiac poll: "Fifty percent say the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 was an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten, while 44 percent say too much is being made of the storming of the U.S. Capitol and it's time to move on." https://t.co/pbusOEQAMf
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 12, 2022
Here’s the issue. Stelter’s tweet focuses on the January 6 riot and the overall number of people who support or oppose it. It’s clear in the following retweet of his that he thinks this number of people is not high enough.
It’s a perfect example of cherry-picking data and using it as your commentary. Stelter is pulling one bit of information out of a lot of context that is needed.
Just over half of Americans (53 percent) think it is either very likely (19 percent) or somewhat likely (34 percent) that there will be another attack in the United States like the one that happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Forty-three percent think it is not so likely (22 percent) or not likely at all (21 percent).
On the Congressional investigation of the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, 61 percent support the investigation while 33 percent oppose it.
Democrats support the investigation 83 – 15 percent, independents support it 65 – 30 percent, while Republicans oppose it 60 – 36 percent.
Fifty percent say the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 was an attack on democracy that should never be forgotten, while 44 percent say too much is being made of the storming of the U.S. Capitol and it’s time to move on. That compares to a Quinnipiac University Poll on August 4, 2021 when 57 percent said it should never be forgotten and 38 percent said it was time to move on.
More Republicans are bucking the trend of their party on the issue of January 6 than Democrats, and independents are far more opposed than Democrats. It’s a highly partisan issue, and not necessarily just because of the Republican Party. The Democrats, and their allies in the media, want January 6 to be far more than what it was: a riot.
But what’s even worse here is the implication that if right-wing media is somehow to blame for this set of responses, then it has undue influence on the rest of the poll. If people are watching Fox News or Newsmax and reading RedState or the Daily Wire, they aren’t going to just selectively use that influence for one question. Their media consumption habits will taint everything they say in their response to this poll.
That means that Stelter and the people he follows truly believe that right-wing media is the reason Biden’s approval numbers are in the tank, which would be an incredible indictment not on Fox News but the more liberal outlets like CNN and MSNBC being unable to convince more than 33 percent of Americans that everything is actually okay.
Oh, wait. They aren’t saying everything is okay. The mainstream news outlets are actually saying that everything continues to be awful and that if you agree with Republicans or think the way they think or believe the things they believe, then you are a racist/bigot/homophobe/etc., that you are upholding white supremacy in America. That everything is garbage and it’s all your fault.
That’s not winning viewers over. Even progressives and liberals prefer Fox News because they aren’t being told that by the network’s general news coverage. You can see it in the ratings from 2021.
For one thing, 2021 reiterated that Fox’s audience is far from ideologically homogeneous. A Morning Consult survey from earlier this year, for example, found that more independents watch Fox News than any other network. And it’s not just the audience — the viewpoints of Fox’s own on-air talent sometimes clash with each other, as the response of some Fox personalities to the Carlson special demonstrated.
According to Nielsen MRI Fusion data, it’s also interesting to note that Fox and CNN have a near-identical share of the liberal audience for cable TV news (29% and 28% for CNN and Fox, respectively, with 43% going to MSNBC). Meanwhile, 45% of self-professed independents tune into Fox, with 31% and 24% going to MSNBC and CNN, respectively.
The latest ratings data as of the time of this writing, meanwhile, shows that Fox was #1 in all of cable news for the sixth year in a row in 2021. The network averaged 1.3 million total day viewers this year, while neither CNN or MSNBC broke 1 million for the same period (787,000 and 919,000, respectively).
If CNN and others are looking the audience share to Fox News, it’s not because people are going out and searching for misinformation. It’s because they aren’t very interested in being told they’re awful people.
But keep in mind that last stat from the Forbes article. Fox averaged 1.3 million total users during the day. Tucker Carlson, who is far and away the most popular host on Fox, averages over 4 million. At most, Carlson has one percent of the American population (329.5 million) watching his show.
Meanwhile, Facebook has almost 200 million U.S. users, but when you combine the total engagements for the Daily Wire and Fox News (two of the highest-performing conservative platforms on Facebook), there are only 51 million, and a lot of those engagements, like liking a post and commenting on it, are done by the same users (someone who likes a post and then comments on it).
So there is no way that right-wing media is capable of swinging that much of the American public against taking January 6 seriously, nor are they capable of being the sole reason only 33 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance.
So what’s really going on here? Maybe it’s the fact that the economy is still dragging along slowly, gas prices are still high, supply chain issues and shortages are leaving barren grocery store shelves, the border is still in chaos, and there are still Americans trapped in Afghanistan. All of these issues are more immediate concerns to voters than January 6, the filibuster, the “voting rights” bill stalling in Congress, etc.
You can’t blame the Biden Administration’s failures on right-wing media. You can’t call what the average American is experiencing “misinformation” and write it off as ignorant people listening to bad sources of information.
Well, I mean, you can if your job is watching Fox News all day in order to talk about what they’re saying while ignoring your own network’s problems. And you can if your job is to carry water for the Biden Administration.