A Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings Institute study of Americans’ views on immigration reform finds that people’s media choices have a strong effect on their beliefs:
Only 12% of Americans who most trust Fox News for information about politics and current events correctly believe deportations have increased. In contrast, nearly one-quarter (24%) of Americans who most trust broadcast news, one-third (33%) Americans who most trust CNN, and 35% of Americans who most trust public television believe the deportation rate has increased.
In fact, the study finds, Fox News may “reinforce and perhaps harden conservative views.” 60 percent of Republicans who trust Fox News most say immigrants “Burden our country because they take our jobs, housing, and health care.” 38 percent of Republicans who trust other news sources most say the same thing.
Such differences don’t just show up with regard to immigration. 64 percent of “Fox News Republicans” oppose raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but 56 percent of “non-Fox Republicans” favor doing so. 76 percent of Fox News Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, as opposed to 57 percent of non-Fox News Republicans.
A quarter of all Americans said Fox News was their most trusted TV news source — the highest rating for any TV news concern. 17 percent said the same about CNN. MSNBC came in at 5 percent, behind “The Daily Show.”
Among conservatives, not surprisingly, Fox is huge: 48 percent trust it most. “By contrast, there is no dominant trusted news source among Democrats or liberals,” the study found. “These figures may partly reflect the ideological diversity of the Democratic Party,” E.J. Dionne Jr. and William A. Galston propose in the study’s media section. “Whereas Republicans overwhelmingly identify as conservative (74%), the Democratic Party is more ideologically diverse, with 46% calling themselves liberal, 31% moderate, and 20% conservative.”
One more interesting finding: Republicans “make up 23% of the entire sample and 21% of those who say they use public radio as a “news source for information about politics and current events,” the study says. “Democrats make up 34% of the sample and 36% of those who say they use public radio. Independents are 40% of the broader sample and also 40% of those who report that they listen to public radio for their news.”