Measuring Bias and Accuracy in Cable News

Is MSNBC left leaning and Fox News Right Leaning with CNN in the Middle?

Science seems to confirm what’s pretty apparent.  Nascent science, yes, but science nonetheless:

“Using the Contrast Analysis of Semantic Similarity (CASS) text analysis software, the researchers evaluated 12 months’ worth of transcripts from MSNBC, FOX and CNN. Confirming their hypotheses and validating the CASS method, FOX demonstrated a conservative bias, while MSNBC exhibited a liberal leaning. CNN fell squarely in between.” (From

However, the above is a measure of bias, not accuracy.

So let’s talk accuracy.

When accuracy is included in the mix, Fox falls behind pretty badly.

Studies- numerous studies – were conducted on who is accurate and, well, who isn’t.

Last time I checked, there were six major studies. Each study found, in one way or another, that Fox News was the least accurate in its reporting or that Fox News viewers were the least informed of viewers, often holding beliefs that were factually incorrect.

A supporting factor for the accuracy of these studies is that there are no reports by anyone, anywhere, that state that Fox News viewers are *better* informed than other viewers, or that Fox is more accurate than other news providers.

Let’s look at the studies. Six are listed here; I’ve heard there’s a seventh recently out that matches the below data; I haven’t had the chance to find it.

First, my apologies:  I’m sure I got most or all of this list from another site; but at the moment, I don’t have a link to that site or even a record of where I got this list.  I’ll fix that.

Here we go!

1) “Climate on Cable: The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox
News, CNN, and MSNBC.” A combined study by American University, George Mason University and Yale University. A sophisticated study (link below) that indicated that by a wide margin, Fox News viewers were very misinformed on a range of subjects, including scientific statements on global warming, but also in such matters as the Iraq War.


2) Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA): “MISPERCEPTIONS, THE MEDIA AND THE IRAQ WAR”. This study found, to quote, “Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions.”


3) Stanford University: “Frequent Viewers of Fox News Are Less Likely to Accept Scientists’ Views of Global Warming”. This study found, to quote, that the “ “more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming, with less trust in scientists.”


4) Kaisar Foundation: “ASSESSING AMERICANS’ FAMILIARITY WITH THE HEALTH CARE LAW”. This was a study that focused on how well cable media viewers understood the facts behind health care reform. It found, to quote, regarding its survey that, “higher shares of those who report CNN (35 percent) or MSNBC (39 percent) as their primary news source [got] 7 or more right, compared to those who report mainly watching Fox News (25 percent).”


5) Ohio State University: “FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTES TO SPREAD OF RUMORS ABOUT PROPOSED NYC MOSQUE. CNN and NPR promote more accurate beliefs; Belief in rumors associated with opposition to the NYC mosque and to mosques in general”

Read through the study. Fox News would pass on unsubstantiated rumors far more often than other outlets; correspondingly, the study found that Fox News viewers were about half more likely to believe these rumors.


6) Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA): “Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the US Electorate”. In this study, Fox News viewers were much more likely to believe false claims brought forward during the election cycle; many of these false claims were promulgated by Fox News personalities.


With *no* studies, none -not even noncredible ones- stating that Fox News is the most accurate reporting outlet, and none stating that Fox News viewers are the best informed, it’s reasonable, indeed compelling, to conclude that Fox News does a poor job conveying facts, and, correspondingly, its viewers are the least informed of the lot.

So, yeah, MSNBC is on the left and Fox is on the right. The difference is that Fox is a lot less informing and actually inaccurate in its reporting.

That’s why – that’s why!- when I see Fox News on television anywhere I ask that the channel be changed. Not entirely because it’s full of right-wing opinion.

Because it’s just so dang blasted and demonstrably inaccurate.


About zghortaman
Attempting to navigate the modern day with every tool available

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