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22 June 2011

Jon Stewart: "Fox News viewers are dumb"

Well, he didn't exactly say that... "most consistently misinformed media viewers" and he backed up his claim citing generic "polls".  Politifact checked out this claim, finding it false.

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.

Politifact used several polls over the past several years, in which people were asked questions (to determine their level of mis/information) and asked where they got their news.

Here's my beef.

What's considered information?  What is high quality information?  What is truth?  Who determines what is the important information to know -- thus determining the questions asked in these polls.

For one of the polls, if you couldn't name the Secretary of State, it was darn near impossible to be considered well-informed.  (It's Hillary Clinton, right?  Gah, I'm having test anxiety.)  If someone can't recall that Biden is VP but can recite all members of the Senate, are they more or less informed than someone who can do the opposite?

What about new analysis?  What about the stuff that's currently open to interpretation, the stuff that the history books will define as "truth"?

Those deciding the questions for these polls are likely to have a preferred news source themselves.  (It's damn near impossible to watch the bulk of all news channels + catch the major newspaper and blog stories.)  So, those creating the questions have a view of important stories that are based -- at least in part -- on the reality created by their preferred news source.  Wouldn't it be natural to assume that, then, those who watch their preferred news source would rank higher on the tests?

Lastly, the questions asked were all relatively simple.  If someone's only news source was a daily, ten-minute children's show ala Schoolhouse Rock for current events, that person would likely score very well on the questions asked in these polls.  THERE WOULDN'T BE ANY OTHER, MORE COMPLEX NEWS INFO CLOUDING THEIR BRAINS.  Who's SoS?  Um, wait for a sec, I gotta file through my brain and push aside the most recent EPA regulations, which coal plant just closed in Texas, the date of the WI State Senate recall elections, the names of those running for senate in my summer home's district, the most recent lawsuit filed against Obama regarding Libya and the War Powers Act, the results of the last elections in Turkey, whether or not Rick Perry has announced candidacy yet, Sarah Palin's tanning bed emails, Bachman getting glittered, Breitbart crashing Netroots, the mud on Casey Anthony's shoes didn't match the mud where her daughter's bones were found, Georgia's fire, 9.1% unemployment rate, that abortion poll that Mitt Romney didn't sign, Panetta and Patraeus taking on new positions...

Wait, you wanted to know the Secretary of State?  Knowing who is Secretary of State is proof that someone is well-informed?  

I won't even go into the bitter irony that Jon Stewart displayed misinformation when he misspoke about his target's level of mis/information.  Hell, if that slip weren't proof that he's biased against Fox news, I don't know what is.

ADDED: My brainstormy list of Shit! I! Know! may come across as braggy.  That was not my intention.    

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