PolitiFact to Jon Stewart: Not true that Fox News viewers are ‘most consistently misinformed’

PolitiFact, the fact-checking operation run by Poynter’s St. Petersburg Times, looked into  Jon Stewart’s statement to Chris Wallace, “Who has the most consistently misinformed media viewers? Fox. Fox viewers. Consistently. Every poll.” Louis Jacobson writes that three Pew studies “superficially rank” Fox News viewers low in knowledge of current events. But people who rely on other general-interest media also rank low, and viewers of some Fox News programs rank high (along with those who watch Stewart’s show). Two other surveys show mixed support for Stewart’s statement.
Jacobson writes:

“The way Stewart phrased the comment, it’s not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs to support the view that the data shows they are ‘consistently’ misinformed — a term he used not once but three times. It’s simply not true that ‘every poll’ shows that result. So we rate his claim False.”

Reaction: Readers say PolitiFact failed to distinguish between “misinformed” and “ill-informed.”
Earlier: Stewart’s best lines to Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQW2H2IH7IYCXHDTLGM7XT3KSY Shell

    Ha, witnessing the posts above, people are “misinformed” if they don’t fall hook, line and sinker for man-made global warming, the wonders of ObamaCare, spending=saving, and all the benefits of public unions.

    Remember, if you don’t toe the liberal line, you ARE minsinformed!

  • Anonymous

    Well then all of those who solely follow CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, and/or MSNBC (those who think that Fox News isn’t a news channel) are monumentally misinformed and don’t get all the facts on most topics.  Those channels don’t even try and look non-partisan.  Fox viewers see both sides of the story.  Fox does lean to the right but it does not skew it’s reporting like the others do.  The channels mentioned above are the cover up channels for the Obama administration.  When something questionable happens in the Obama administration more likely than not you either won’t see them reporting on the story or they won’t tell you the whole story, or these so called news stations will go out of their way to make excuses for the Obama administration.  They might as well be an arm of the White House and of the Democratic National Committee. 

  • Desiderius Erasmus

    Read the whole Politifact article.  They were splitting hairs and have since been called on it:

    “The way Stewart phrased the comment, it’s not enough to show a sliver of
    evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs to
    support the view that the data shows they are “consistently”
    misinformed — a term he used not once but three times. It’s simply not
    true that “every poll” shows that result. So we rate his claim False.”

    In any event, they have since supported Stewart with a helpful list of the 21 Fox lies, as reported by Polifact, that Stewart cited yesterday.:


  • Anonymous

    PolitiFact got seriously dressed down over this—in particular, over their failure to distinguish between “misinformed” and “uninformed.” Stewart and the polls don’t say that FOX News viewers don’t receive information; they say that FOX viewers receive incorrect information. There’s a world of difference between the two.


    Such ineptitude is inexplicable. Did PolitiFact toss a softball to FOX?

  • http://www.aptseven.blogspot.com ilovemycereal


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Daly/100001653422318 Chris Daly

    Separate from this source but on the same topic, don’t overlook this study: 

    http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Iraq/IraqMedia_Oct03/IraqMedia_Oct03_rpt.pdf. The study was also published, in expanded form, in Political Science
    Quarterly 118, no. 4 (Winter 2003–4).

    ~ Chris Daly 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for pointing to Jane Hamsher’s excellent post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Levy/1332321421 Marc Levy

    Politifact has little credibility with me since the “pants on fire” judgment it passed on Democrats talking about the Republican plan for Medicare. So on this thing I assume Politifact is just trying to pass off more of the same.

  • Gary Cowart
  • Gary Cowart

    From PolitiFact:

    “Once again, Fox News as a whole ranked fairly low among regularly used
    media outlets — 20 percent answered all four correctly and 18 percent
    answered three correctly. Still, those numbers beat the national
    average of 14 percent and 20 percent, respectively. (The best-scoring
    outlet, the Wall Street Journal, posted scores of 51 percent and 23
    percent, respectively.)

    Fox actually scored better than its
    two direct cable-news rivals — MSNBC, which is a liberal counterpoint
    to Fox, and CNN, which is considered more middle-of-the-road. Also
    scoring lower than Fox were local television news, the evening network
    news shows and the network morning shows.

    And for the third time, particular Fox shows scored well. Hannity
    ranked fifth (just ahead of MSNBC’s liberal shows hosted by Keith
    Olbermann and Rachel Maddow) and O’Reilly ranked ninth. For the first
    time, Pew included Glenn Beck in its rankings, and the Fox host
    finished 12th — slightly ahead of Stewart’s own Daily Show. ”

    Ouch – that has to hurt – Stewie getting beat by Glenn Beck.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkGisleson Mark Gisleson

    Jane Hamsher has a blistering rebuttal to Politifact posted here: http://firedoglake.com/2011/06/21/fact-checking-politifact/

    To summarize, Hamsher says that all the polls on who’s misinformed back Stewart up completely. Politifact referenced some polls that measured viewer knowledge as well, but that’s not an index of misinformation, which was Stewart’s claim. Fox viewers do learn the names of officials and basic information, but what Stewart was saying and what the polls supported was the fact that Fox viewers are more likely to be “misinformed.” That doesn’t mean they don’t know anything, just that some of what they learn on Fox is flat out incorrect.

    Politifact really bolloxed this one up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504633504 Dan Mitchell

    PolitiFact grossly overstates here by calling Stewart’s declaration “false.” He was probably too glib (in a televised, unscripted conversation, not in a news report), but even the studies PolitiFact cites back up the notion that Fox viewers are generally less informed than consumers of other media. In the Pew study, Fox ranked near the bottom. That the viewers of one or two Fox shows scored higher than average doesn’t change the fact that Fox viewers as a group rank near the bottom.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Politifact, but you got this one wrong.  Pew’s studies are just a couple out of many, and the more academic studies that ask more than just the 3 to 10 questions that pew relies on all show that Jon Stewart is in fact correct.  If you want to debate Pew’s methodology that is fine, but to try and discredit Stewart based on Pew’s methodology is highly misleading.  Fox News viewers are the most misinformed news audience.  Some individual shows on Fox news do better, like the O’Reilly Factor, but that is due to the audience selection.  Those more educated that watch Fox turn on O’Reilly, which makes his results look better, but if you control for education level, O’Reilly does poorly, compared to educated viewers of other news sources.