From religion to immigration to COVID, Fox News creates divisions even among Republicans

Not that surprising but still notable:

One simple question may be the most reliable predictor of the strength of a conservative person’s political views in this hotly contested election year. That question: Do you trust Fox News?

From religion to immigration to race to the economy and the president’s approval rating, the most notable distinction across all categories of Public Religion Research Institute’s recent report, “State of the Union: A House Divided and Fragile,” is how a respondent answers this one question.

This correlates with a 2017 study in the American Economic Review and reported on Vox: “Emory University political scientist Gregory Martin and Stanford economist Ali Yurukoglu estimate that watching Fox News directly causes a substantial rightward shift in viewers’ attitudes, which translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates.”

That was confirmed again the next year in a study by the group Data for Progress that found that “across a variety of political and cultural attitudes, Republicans who report getting their news from Fox are significantly to the right of Republicans who don’t.” The authors dubbed this the “Fox News Bubble.”

PRRI may not be the first polling firm to ask about the influence of Fox News, but the new data set is likely one of the most comprehensive analyses of the Fox News effect. Its throughgoing scope illustrates again and again the gaps between the views of Republicans in general and Republicans who rely on Fox News in particular.

‘A party within a party’

“Right now, what you essentially have is a party within a party that is organized around its allegiance to Fox News, and to this president,” PRRI founder Robert P. Jones said at an Oct. 19 virtual roundtable sponsored by the Brookings Institution.

“What you essentially have is a party within a party that is organized around its allegiance to Fox News.”

Despite the liberal assumption that all Republicans are swayed by Fox News, the PRRI data found about 40% of Republicans say they trust Fox News more than any other news source. That is the “party within the party.”

Among those Fox News aficionados, double-digit gaps appear on almost all issues compared to Republicans as a group — and the gap between Fox News viewers and non-Republicans often is deep and wide.

At the roundtable, Jones noted that Fox News had been galvanizing this party within a party before Trump was elected president. However, this subgroup has become his most loyal base and the most loyal adherents to the controversial policies that have defined his administration.

For example, on the question, “Will climate change cause you harm?” Democrats (76%) and independents (61%) are more likely than Republicans (31%) to believe this. Only 18% of Republicans who trust Fox News believe climate change will cause them harm, compared to 39% of Republicans who most trust other news sources — meaning Fox News loyalty doubles the likelihood of Republicans not believing climate change will cause them harm.

Only 18% of Republicans who trust Fox News believe climate change will cause them harm.

The largest gap among Republicans concerns approval of the job Trump is doing in office. Nearly all Republicans who report trusting Fox News most (97%) approve of Trump’s performance, including 82% who strongly approve. Among all other Republicans, 78% approve of the president and 42% strongly approve — a 40-point gap on the strongly approve group.

Among other examples of this Fox News-induced chasm:

Is the country moving in the right direction under Trump’s current leadership? Only 10% of Democrats say yes, while 66% of Republicans say yes. Republicans who say they trust Fox News overwhelmingly believe the country is going in the right direction (79%), compared to 58% of Republicans who trust other news sources — a 21-point gap.

Will voting by mail be as secure as voting in person? Nationally, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say they are not confident at all that voting by mail will be as secure as voting in person (56% versus 25%). Republicans who say they most trust Fox News are especially distrustful of voting by mail, with 73% saying so, compared to 44% of Republicans who trust any other news source — a 29-point gap.

Should the popular vote determine the winner of presidential elections? Not surprisingly, 86% of Democrats say yes, compared to 39% of Republicans. However, only 25% of Republicans who trust Fox News say yes, compared to 48% of Republicans who most trust any other news source — a 23-point gap.

How is the president handling the coronavirus pandemic? Nationally, only 35% of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the pandemic and 65% disapprove. However, while 78% of all Republicans approve of his response to the pandemic, nearly all (94%) Republicans who trust Fox News approve of his pandemic response — a 15-point gap among Republicans and a 59-point gap with the national attitude.

How has the president handled the protests over the summer following the killings of Black Americans by police?Nationally, only 35% approve of Trump’s response and 64% disapprove. Among all Republicans, 78% approve. Once again, Republicans are divided by those who trust Fox News most (93% approve) and those who trust any other source most (68% approve) — a 25-point gap.

Are killings of Black people by police isolated incidents? Most Republicans (79%) believe this, but few Democrats (17%) do. However, being a Republican and trusting Fox News makes it almost certain you will believe this, with 90% saying so.

Republicans are 25 percentage points more likely to agree that protests make the country better when the statement does not mention Black Americans.

Do protests make the country better? The poll asked this question more than one way, both identifying protesters as Black Americans and not identifying protesters as Black Americans. Nationally, Republicans are 25 percentage points more likely to agree that protests make the country better when the statement does not mention Black Americans (49%) than they are when the protesters are specified as Black Americans (24%). Among Republicans who most trust Fox News, this effect grows to 37 percentage points: 47% favor the statement without Black Americans, compared to only 10% who favor the statement when the protesters are identified as Black Americans.

Are white people and Christians experiencing higher levels of discrimination than racial or ethnic minority groups?Among Republicans who trust Fox News most, only 27% say there is a lot of discrimination against Asian people, 34% among Hispanic people or 36% among Black people (36%). However, among these Republicans who trust Fox News most, 58% see a lot of discrimination against white people, and 73% believe there is a lot of discrimination against Christians.

Are immigrants “invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background”? Less than one-third (31%) of all Americans believe this is true, but a majority of Republicans (57%) believe it is true. Two-thirds of Republicans who trust Fox News most (67%) believe immigrants are invading the country, compared to 51% of Republicans who trust another source most. Only 15% of Democrats agree with this assessment.

Two-thirds of Republicans who trust Fox News most (67%) believe immigrants are invading the country.

Do you support or oppose the administration’s family separation policy at the southern border? Majorities of Democrats (91%), independents (79%) and Republicans (53%) oppose the family separation policy, but a majority of Republicans who most trust Fox News (53%) favor this immigration policy, compared to 41% of Republicans who trust any other news source.

Have Trump’s decisions and behavior as president encouraged white supremacist groups? A majority of Americans (57%) say Trump has encouraged white supremacist groups. Overall, only 18% of Republicans agree that he has encouraged these groups, but dig deeper and the disparity behind that number stands out again: 28% of Republicans who trust a non–Fox News source say the president has encouraged white supremacists, compared to only 3% of those who trust Fox News most — a 25-point gap.

Who do you trust for information about the pandemic? Republicans nationally report low levels of trust in any of the sources of information about the pandemic but 40% say they have a lot of trust in the CDC, which is similar to their trust in Trump (39%) on the issue. However, among Republicans, trusting Fox News doubles the likelihood of trusting Trump as a source of information — 26% to 58%.

Similarly, only 23% of all Americans believe shutdowns, mask mandates and other steps taken by state and local governments since the coronavirus pandemic began are unreasonable measures to protect people. But among Republicans, 43% see these actions as unreasonable and among Republicans who trust Fox News, 51% see them as unreasonable.

Could the spread of COVID-19 have been controlled better? Nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) think so, although Republicans (40%) are less likely than Democrats (92%) to think so. Only 22% of Republicans who trust Fox News as their main source of television news believe it could have been controlled better, compared to 51% of Republicans who most trust other news sources — a 29-point gap.

81% of Republicans who trust Fox News believe coronavirus was developed intentionally by scientists in a lab.

Was coronavirus developed intentionally by scientists in a lab? Among all Americans, there’s a 50-49 split on this. However, 71% of Republicans nationally think it was developed in a lab, compared to 34% of Democrats. Once again, trusting Fox News magnifies your belief in this theory, with 81% thinking this is true, compared to 64% of Republicans who trust other news sources — a 17-point spread.

Has Trump damaged the dignity of the presidency? Nationally, 63% of Americans believe he has. That includes 27% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats. But among Republicans who most trust Fox News, only 9% believe Trump has damaged the dignity of the presidency, compared to 38% of Republicans who most trust another news source — a 29-point gap.

One final note: Nationwide, 85% of Republicans and Democrats alike told pollsters they are absolutely certain to vote. But even more Republicans who trust Fox News most for television news (96%) and white evangelical Protestant Republicans (90%) say they are absolutely certain to vote.

Source: From religion to immigration to COVID, Fox News creates divisions even among Republicans

Chinese diplomat accuses critics of sowing division among Chinese Canadian community

As if Chinese diplomats are not themselves sowing divisions:

A Chinese diplomat is accusing Canadians who criticize Beijing’s new Hong Kong security law of trying to sow discord among people of Chinese origin in Canada.

Tong Xiaoling, China’s consul-general in Vancouver, told a Chinese-language radio program in Vancouver this week that pro-democracy activists in Canada who criticize the new security law enacted in Hong Kong are trying to foist their views on people who support Beijing’s move. Her interview was broadcast over Monday and Tuesday.

She said a “very few people, in both Hong Kong and local [Canada], have been maliciously denigrating and sabotaging Hong Kong’s national security legislation,” and she accused them of colluding with “anti-China forces” and trying to cause “trouble” overseas.

“Some people were trying to intimidate people who truly care about Hong Kong, stop them from voicing [their opinions] and launch personal attacks on them. [They] also try to create divisions in the ethnically Chinese community and sabotage China-Canada relations,” Ms. Tong said to Vancouver radio station 1320 AM, which bills itself as the “voice of Vancouver’s Chinese community.”

Ms. Tong proceeded to list various members of the Chinese community in Vancouver: those from Hong Kong, from Macau, from mainland China and the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Canadian activists for democracy in Hong Kong say that’s an unusual thing for a foreign government official to be concerned about. It’s not the Chinese government’s business to be actively concerned with the opinion of Canadians of Chinese origin, they say.

The Beijing-drafted national security law punishes what China broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics of the law fear it will crush the wide-ranging freedoms promised to the territory when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, including the right to protest and an independent legal system. Supporters of the law say it will bring stability after last year’s often-violent anti-government and anti-China unrest.

Vancouver has been home to a number of rallies against the new national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong, including demonstrations outside Oakridge Centre and the local Chinese consulate.

Cherie Wong, executive director for Alliance Canada Hong Kong, an umbrella group for Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates in this country, said the Chinese government acts as though it has a proprietary claim on people of Chinese origin in Canada.

“Why would a foreign diplomat care about what the Chinese Canadian community thinks? It’s because the Chinese Communist Party feels a level of ownership over ethnically Chinese individuals,” Ms. Wong said.

“The accusation that we are dividing Chinese people is in fact reinforcing the idea that we are a monolith, which is very much incorrect. It’s part of the same propaganda, erasing the differences in political opinions.”

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, said that in his opinion the Chinese government devotes a lot of resources to try to shape the opinions of ethnically Chinese communities in foreign countries in the hope of influencing public policy. “The message is repeated all the time: Don’t forget the Motherland.”

He said Ms. Tong’s comments reflect a more assertive brand of Chinese foreign policy. “She should be reminded that Canadians are Canadians: We don’t make a distinction between Canadians of Chinese origin and Canadians of British origin.”

Members of the House of Common’s special Canada-China committee, meanwhile, are meeting this week to consider holding hearings on the new Hong Kong security law.

“Conservatives proposed months ago for the Canada-China Committee to reconvene for intensive study of the horrific and deteriorating situation in Hong Kong. A lot of time has been lost in the interim, and it is all the more urgent now for us to hold intensive hearings on the situation in Hong Kong,” Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, a member of the committee, said.

Ms. Tong told 1320 AM that the national security bill was designed to bring calm to Hong Kong. Mass protests began in mid-2019 over proposed legislative changes that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. This civil disobedience later evolved into demands for greater democracy and autonomy.

She blamed foreign governments and even the self-ruled island of Taiwan for encouraging this disobedience.

She also said she understands some overseas Chinese people have expressed concerns over the new law, worrying that it will violate Hong Kong people’s rights and freedoms, but blamed biased media reports and foreign politicians for their concerns.

She said the law will target only a tiny minority of people who sabotage Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and the national security.

“If you do not break such law, and aren’t involved in these activities, why do you need to worry about your safety?”

Source: Chinese diplomat accuses critics of sowing division among Chinese Canadian community