Last night, Fox’s Hannity & Colmes hosted John Ziegler, author of a push poll attempting to prove that voters who supported Barack Obama were misinformed. Hannity used Ziegler’s study to complain that Obama supporters didn’t know about “really significant issues” like Bill Ayers and Obama’s views on coal. He insisted that only those who watched Fox News understood the real issues:
HANNITY: If you don’t listen to talk radio, if you don’t watch the FOX News Channel, you’re not anywhere nearly as informed as people that are just hearing the bumper stickers, the slogans, the snippets of the commercials of the media. So, journalism died in 2008, and it influenced a lot of people on the way out.
ZIEGLER: That’s exactly right.
Studies have consistently shown Fox viewers to be among the most misinformed Americans. A 2008 Pew study ranked Fox News dead last in the number of “high knowledge” viewers, with only 19 percent of Fox viewers able to correctly identify the majority party in Congress (Democrats), the name of the U.S. Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice), and name of British Prime Minister (Gordon Brown).
Fox viewers are particularly misinformed about the Iraq war. A 2003 study found three common misperceptions about the war held by many Americans: first, that US troops found evidence of close pre-war links between Iraq and al-Qaeda; second, that troops found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and third, that world public opinion favored Washington’s going to war with Iraq. Fox viewers were the most likely to believe these falsehoods:
Eighty percent of Fox viewers were found to hold at least one misperception, compared to 23 percent of NPR/PBS consumers. All the other media fell in between. … As to the number of misconceptions held by their audiences, Fox far outscored all of its rivals. A whopping 45 percent of its viewers believed all three misperceptions, while the other commercial networks scored between 12 percent and 16 percent. Only nine percent of [print media] readers believed all three, while only four percent of the NPR/PBS audience did.
Yet Hannity and Ziegler were convinced that media malfeasance was the only reason for Obama’s victory. Ziegler even claimed, “Bush would have won 65-35 with fair coverage in 2004.”