More Anti Fox News Propaganda Debunked

I love stories like this because they are so easy to take apart. John Sides from The Monkey Cage blog has this report about a study done by a few political scientists on how the introduction of Fox News affected congress member’s votes. The study looks at the time from the roll out of Fox News in 1996 to when it was fully available nationwide in 2002. The idea is that members, regardless of party, who had Fox News on air in their districts were more likely to vote with Republicans than members who didn’t. Sides explains it this way;

“Republicans in districts with Fox News became more likely to vote with their party, and Republicans in districts without Fox News less likely to vote with their party. Democrats, however, behaved the opposite. Democrats in districts with Fox News became less likely to vote with other Democrats.”

 The study’s authors even admit that party loyality was high during this time, thus Republicans voting with their own party, and the effects they show are small. But they still claim the small changes could have “netted the Republicans enough votes — about 26-27 — to affect actual lawmaking.”

Political scientists study and model all sorts of things. Ask yourself this; Why did these guys do this study? One could say they wanted to show how this “new media” influenced politics. Innocent enough. Or one could tell the truth. The study’s authors are all liberals who loathe Fox News, they did this study with bias and the intent of proving a preconceived notion.

Think about what was going on in the mid 90s to early 2000s. The Republican Party had become more conservative because of Reagan. This was shown in the Republican takeover of congress in ’94 with it’s much more conservative members than from earlier years like in the 1970s.

Next, this was the time of the rise of the “blue dog” or more conservative Democrats. This was because of the DLC (Democrat Leadership Council) centrist movement in the party that started in the mid 80s. These Democrats did not have as much of a problem breaking with their party leadership from time to time, and by the early 2000s they were part of that leadership (Until Pelosi’s liberals took over leadership after Bush’s ’04 re-election, then in ’06 the House itself, and banished all the blue dogs for supporting the Iraq War. But that’s another story,).

For those two reasons alone congress was moving to the right during these years and should (would) have shown similar, more conservative thus Republican, voting patterns regardless of whether there was a Fox News or not. Sides concludes his piece with this;

“It is an open question, of course, whether this effect persisted after 2002, especially given that MSNBC eventually began to provide a left-leaning counterweight to Fox News. Regardless, Fox News appeared to affect how members of Congress behaved, especially when they thought voters were watching.”

While Sides is buying this study, I think I effectively blew it up. One thing I do at least partly buy into, and Sides cites a study on this as well, is that Fox News had an affect on the general public’s voting patterns with regard to the 2000 presidential election.

The reason I only party buy into this theory, and that is what it is a theory not a fact, is because I think Fox News viewers were already right leaning voters. If one is to fully buy this then you have to believe that Fox News somehow converted a bunch of left leaning and Democrat voters into Republicans, an idea I find laughable. If Fox News had any effect on the public, it was to motivate those right leaning voters to actually get out and vote instead of sitting home on election day. If Fox News is guilty of driving more people into civic participation that is hardly an indictment of any crime. It’s not like they are ACORN.

Here are some things I would like to ask these political scientists, who in essence are saying Fox News is this mind control propaganda machine (again laughable); What was the effect of all those years of the liberal monopoly of the media? How did decades of the three TV networks being unchallenged, with guys like Walter Cronkite blending lefty editorial into what was billed as straight news, affect congress and the public?

I could argue this is why the Democrats held congress through the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I would certainly be standing on firmer ground than this Fox News study that only takes a snapshot of a few years and one cable TV network to make rather outlandish claims of influence that even by their own admission they can barely demonstrate. All these type anti Fox News studies are done to discredit the network because liberals hate the fact they lost their monopoly of the news media. They are done with bias and intent, this makes them bunk.

Finally, and this is the no brainer part, Fox News is not hiding anything or trying to fool anybody. You turn it on knowing what you are getting. If for no other reason that should dismiss these critiques. They don’t conceal their bias, they yell it to high heaven for all to hear. That is something that cannot be said for the mainstream media of Cronkite’s time or today. It is this concealment of bias that makes something propaganda, not the other way around. The way these political scientists conceal their bias behind a supposed academic study should tell you what it really is as well.

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