What with the terrifying development of anti-quarantine protests at State Houses around the country, it’s easy to cast about looking for a place to assign blame for these ideas. One prime contender is FOX news, that echo chamber of far-right thought. But a team of Political Science professors from Tufts worked together to demonstrate that FOX doesn’t have the power to brainwash people so completely.
This research from Political Science Professors Jeffrey Berry, James Glaser, and Deborah Schildkraut uses Data for Progress opinion polling to study whether watching Fox New caused viewers to underestimate the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. As Berry, Glaser, and Schildkraut point out, both President Trump and Fox publicly downplayed the impact of the virus, especially in the early days of its spread. Previous studies from March indicated that their dismissive attitude had made its way into Fox viewers and Republicans alike. But Berry, Glaser, and Schildkraut’s study seeks to parse out the specific impact of Fox News from already existing political attitudes by studying media consumers who watch both Fox and CNN. Ultimately, they found that many Fox viewers have not been persuaded by the network’s frequently misleading information about the virus. That is, “Fox doesn’t appear to have much effect on the average viewer when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.” Though they caution against applying their findings to issues other than COVID-19, they interpret these results as one instance in which Fox has failed to convince its viewership of the false narratives it conveys.
So, yay? Also: stay home.