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

Macpherson: Quebec’s Fox News, only bigger

Of note, and the consequent implications:

For their shrill populism, the Québecor media have been called Quebec’s Fox News. But in terms of their influence on this province’s politics, they’re much bigger than that.

Last weekend, in the annual Quebec journalism awards, Québecor’s newspapers, television channels and digital media were shut out.

But its flagship daily Le Journal de Montréal boasted of survey results suggesting that on all platforms, the three Québecor dailies were read at least once a week by more than half of Quebecers over the age of 14.

And Québecor’s TVA network bragged that its newscasts and LCN all-news channel led the television ratings in their respective categories.

This market domination by the Québecor media, and their resulting influence on public opinion, help explain poll results published this week suggesting that Quebec is the only province where a majority supports legislation like Bill 21.

The Legault government’s proposed anti-hijab-and-kippah-and-turban bill is supposed to settle, after more than a decade, the issue of accommodating minority religions. As the Bouchard-Taylor provincial commission on the subject reported in 2008, that issue was largely created by sensationalist and often inaccurate reporting by Québecor. And it’s mainly Québecor that has kept the issue alive.

In December 2017, TVA reported that a Montreal mosque had female construction workers removed from a work site outside during Friday prayers. The report was quickly debunked, but it wasn’t until a year later that TVA grudgingly admitted it was false and apologized.

Instead of editorials, Québecor’s dailies have columnists who circulate among its “convergent” platforms defending the supremacy of what one of them, Mathieu Bock-Côté, calls Quebec’s “historic French-speaking majority” — that is, ethnic French-Canadians — against the province’s minorities and other enemies of the true people.

Last January, another Le Journal columnist, Denise Bombardier, called minorities who complain of their treatment in the province “enemies … of French-speaking Quebec.” And she issued a call to “extinguish these hotbeds of intolerance,” even though she acknowledged it might be used by the “hotheaded and violently prejudiced.”

Le Journal’s columnists have clout. The non-binding 2017 National Assembly motion against the public use of English, in the form of the bilingual “bonjour-hi” greeting in businesses, resulted from a campaign spearheaded by one of them, Sophie Durocher.

Another, Richard Martineau, is obsessed with “Islamism” and has been accused of Islamophobia, which he denies.

In 2017, TVA’s rival Radio-Canada reported that in the previous 10 years, Martineau had written about 700 columns directly or indirectly concerning Islam.

A UQAM sociologist, Rachad Antonius, told Radio-Canada he had concluded from a study of Le Journal’s news coverage and columns on Islam that their cumulative effect fostered distrust of Muslims.

But if “Islamists” are a Martineau dog whistle, they may not be his only one. A cheerleader for Bill 21, he predicted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come under pressure to challenge the legislation from “followers of multiculturalism who live in Hampstead or Côte-Saint-Luc,” Montreal suburbs widely identified with their Jewish residents.

Québecor’s domination of the marketplace puts pressure on other media to follow its lead, in both news coverage and opinion. And its position may get even stronger, as its competitors get weaker.

The same day that Le Journal boasted of its readership, its main competitor, La Presse, published another plea for reader donations.

From 250,000 paying subscribers when it was still charging for its journalism, the number of its financial supporters willing to donate money to keep reading La Presse has shrunk to a total of 23,500 donors for the past four months.

This was after Le Journal reported last week that La Presse and another of Québecor’s competitor, Quebec City’s daily Le Soleil, are in serious financial trouble, and have asked the Legault government for help.

It said the government is “particularly pessimistic” about the future of Capitales Médias, which owns Le Soleil and five small regional dailies. And it said that, despite La Presse’s campaign to raise $5 million in donations, it could be broke within a year.

Source: Macpherson: Quebec’s Fox News, only bigger

Incorrect Fox News tweet on Quebec City mosque attack earns scorn of PMO

Appropriate quick action by PMO. Expect this will not be the last time that these kinds of corrections and messages will be needed and which I suspect will be more effective than general messaging or statements:

The director of communications for the Prime Minister’s Office has written to Fox News, asking it to remove a tweet that she says is “dishonouring” the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting.

Kate Purchase sent the letter to Bill Shine, co-president of Fox News Channel, asking the organization to remove a tweet that incorrectly reported the suspect in the shooting was of “Moroccan origin.”

Fox News responded by saying it regretted the error and would delete the tweet.

Amid the chaos that characterized the initial hours after the shooting, the incorrect information was also reported by a number of Canadian news organizations, including CBC News.

The Fox tweet only mentioned one possible shooter, while other organizations reported that there were two possible shooters, including one that was of Moroccan origin. Fox ‘s tweet contained text across an image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying “We condemn this terror attack on Muslims.”

While two men were initially arrested, police have only charged 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette. The second man, 19-year-old Mohamed Belkhadir, was not involved in the shooting but rather was a witness to the attack that left six dead.

A link contained in the Fox News tweet leads readers to a story about the shooting in which Fox explains that its initial reporting on the incident later proved to be incorrect.

But Purchase wanted that tweet updated to reflect the most recent information.

“Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s Twitter account and continues to circulate online even now,” Purchase wrote.

“These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities.”

Fox News Tweet

A screengrab of the tweet by Fox News, which went out Monday. (@FoxNews/CBC)

Purchase goes on to say that Canada is an “open, welcoming” country and a “nation of millions of immigrants and refugees.”

Moving beyond the tweet, Purchase says that “we need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united, instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities.

“If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer,” she says. “It makes us weaker. Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day to day life.

“For all of these reasons, we ask that Fox News either retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect’s actual identity.”

Late Tuesday, managing director Refet Kaplan issued a statement saying the organization regretted the error and had made moves to correct it.

“ initially corrected the misreported information with a tweet and an update to the story on Monday,” Kaplan said in the statement. “The earlier tweets have now been deleted. We regret the error.”

Source: Incorrect Fox News tweet on Quebec City mosque attack earns scorn of PMO – Politics – CBC News

The Origins of Fox’s Favorite Muslim No-Go-Zone Myth – The Atlantic

Good take down of the ‘no-go-zone’ myth, with the following conclusion (and for those who know French, this parody on Le Petit Journal is both amusing and effective):

Meanwhile, the meme can be seen extending to the United States. Truth Uncensored reports, incorrectly, that there are no-go zones stateside, including in places like Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim population. Conservative Tribune even posts a map that allegedly shows no-go zones controlled by Islamists across the United States. I can’t tell where the map originally came from, but it cites data from Steven Emerson, the Fox expert who apologized for his no-go-zone comments. And the map is posted elsewhere on the Internet, labeled as everything from a map of terrorist camps (apparently al-Qaeda is big in Boca Raton—alert your grandparents!) to areas with concentrated Muslim populations.

Erroneous beliefs such as these concentrate along partisan axes, and once an idea has taken seed it’s difficult to root out.

Bottom line: You don’t need to worry about Muslim no-go zones if you live in the United States. And if you’re planning a tourist expedition to Europe, it’s a good idea to avoid high-crime areas, regardless of their demographics. But why, if there’s no evidence for no-go zones and some of the highest-profile propagators of the idea have repudiated it, do such myths survive and thrive?

It probably has a lot to do with the conservative media ecosystem. Erroneous beliefs such as these tend to concentrate along people’s partisan or ideological axes. (The same is true of liberal media, though not in this particular case.) And once an idea has taken seed, it’s extremely difficult to root out. As political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler have shown, corrections can actually backfire, increasing holders’ faith in their incorrect beliefs.

Unfortunately, even reporting on these misconceptions can worsen the problem, so I am part of the problem. But it seems important to note that Jindal is plainly wrong. These sorts of distortions and exaggerations don’t help to fight the very real threat of Islamist terror. They don’t serve the cause of creating an informed, reasoned democratic society. And they don’t help the political prospects of guys like Jindal, who has previously demanded that his GOP stop being “the stupid party.” Maybe this meme is the real no-go zone.

The Origins of Fox’s Favorite Muslim No-Go-Zone Myth – The Atlantic.