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Suffering from the ‘Fox Effect’

January 3, 2011
By Richard Clark

ESCANABA - This is the time of year when we reform. The gym I regularly visit, not to be confused with using its equipment, will have an influx of New Year resolutionists. Smokers will stop smoking and we will promise to eat healthier

It is time to improve our news source. Those who select television programming in waiting rooms, bars, and home can resolve to turn off the Fox News channel.

Fox's claim of being fair and balanced is patently false. Last summer Fox contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors' Association. It's personalities include a Republican presidential candidate. Its motto "fair and balanced" misleads as it is neither balanced or fair.

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Richard Clark

A recent study shows that the more frequently viewers watch Fox News the more those viewers demonstrate they are misinformed on important issues.

The from the University of Maryland released "Misinformation and The 2010 Election, A Study of the U.S. Electorate." The study asked voters which issues they felt were important to their voting decision in the past election. The survey then tested the voters' understanding of each of the issues they identified as important.

The top concern voters gave was the economy. Respondents were asked whether most economists thought the stimulus plan (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-ARRA) created jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, a highly respected nonpartisan body, estimated that between 2 -5.2 million jobs were created by the stimulus plan. A Wall Street Journal panel of economists reported last spring that the ARRA had a net positive result on the economy.

Only 11 percent of voters thought millions of jobs had been created. 26 percent thought jobs were lost and the remainder thought a few jobs were created. 91 percent of those who watched Fox were misinformed of what most economists thought. PBS viewers didn't do much better, 87 percent were misinformed. MSNBC did the best, having only 64 percent of its viewers misinformed.

It is troublesome that such a large portion of the electorate is misinformed. Elected officials respond to constituent wishes. If our wishes are not based upon reality, policy that officials develop will look as if it came from Oz.

A hot button issue many Republicans addressed in the 2010 election was health care reform and its effect on the budget.

Opposition to health care was, in part, fueled by the idea health care reform would increase the deficit.

CBO's analysis showed that the Health Care Reform bill would not increase the deficit but would modestly decrease it over the next 10 years.

Contrary to the CBO analysis 72 percent of daily Fox viewers thought health care increased the deficit as compared to 40 percent of the PBS audience.

Fox viewers did not know that their taxes were cut by ARRA. ARRA included $288 billion in tax cuts, however 63 percent of daily Fox viewers were unaware of the cuts, while 33 percent of PBS viewers didn't realize ARRA included tax cuts.

Climate change presents a significant challenge to mother earth. Action can be taken to reduce the impact of the rising sea level caused by climate change. See The National Academy of Sciences says it is certain climate change is taking place. In spite of scientific evidence 60 percent of Fox viewers refuse to recognize climate change.

Whether Obama was born in the U.S. demonstrates the "Fox effect." 36 percent of those who rarely watch Fox have doubts of the president's citizenship while 63 percent of its daily viewers doubt on his citizenship. See

Of the 11 areas selected by voters as the most important issues in the last election Fox viewers were the most misinformed in nine of the areas when compared to CNN, MSNBC, Network TV, PBS and print media.

Ironically, Fox responded by saying the University of Maryland is a party school and that its students don't study, claims that have been refuted by the academic community. Fox's refusal to refute the Maryland study with facts is the demonstrative of why daily Fox viewers suffer the "Fox Effect."


EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at



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