The link between the news Americans consume and the things they believe

Donald TrumpThe criminal trial in Manhattan was historic. Never before has a former President of the United States been subjected to potential criminal punishment after his term in office, let alone a former President who was seeking re-election to his old office.

The media, and news channels in particular, gave the trial an enormous amount of attention. CNN mentioned the words “Trump” and “trial” in more than 900 15-second clips in the week before opening arguments in the trial began. MSNBC mentioned these terms roughly during that week.

But on Fox News, the issue came up less frequently. In the week before opening arguments, Fox News mentioned the terms less than half as often. On the day the arguments began, Fox mentioned the words “Trump” and “trial” in just over 80 segments, about half as many as CNN.

After Trump was convicted of 34 criminal charges, attention turned to another trial with political implications. President Biden’s son Hunter faces federal charges in Delaware, with opening arguments starting this week. The trial has received less attention than Trump’s, for obvious reasons — but the difference in references to Fox is much more modest than you might assume.

In the first two days of Trump’s impeachment trial, Fox News mentioned the words “Trump” and “impeachment” in 155 segments of the broadcast. In the first two days of the Hunter Biden series, “The Hunter” and “The Trial” were mentioned in 105 parts.

The extent to which Fox News’ editorial decisions deviate from its competitors is well-established. from Bury the initial story This led to Trump being indicted in Manhattan Ignoring his mistakes To focus on Boost Trump And Targeting BidenThe network’s efforts to support the former president and his party are clear.

We should not be surprised, then, when people who watch Fox News or consume conservative media outlets that take a similar approach to coverage have mixed assessments of the country — and of reality.

Ballot from Ipsos It was conducted last month and released this week to measure where Americans get their news and how they view political issues. Those who cited Fox and other conservative outlets as their main news sources — about 10% of respondents — gave the largest margin of support for Donald Trump. The widest margins for Biden were among those who watch CNN and MSNBC (6 percent of the total), followed by 8 percent who cited public radio/TV and newspapers.

Part of this is self-selection: many Fox News viewers watch Fox News because of the beliefs they hold, not their beliefs resulting from watching Fox News. But the two mix with Fox (Sometimes frankly) Reinforcing existing biases in their audience.

To be sure, there is no indication that network coverage leads to people having a more accurate understanding of political issues. Ipsos asked participants to rate the truth of several untrue claims, which centered on immigration and the 2020 election. Those who cited Fox News and conservative media as their primary news source were four to nine times more likely than CNN/MS viewers to NBC for believing false claims.

There is a caveat to apply here as well. Choose different questions — for example, whether Trump himself worked directly with Russian actors before the 2016 election — and you might see the divide reversed. But the questions posed by Ipsos are clearly salient in this regard 2024 elections The responses provide insight into how voters view the next choice for president.

For example, the question about the most important issues facing the country resulted in widely varying answers, depending on the source of the information. Consumers of Fox News/conservative media were more likely than anyone else to say immigration was the most important issue. They were also more likely to believe false claims about immigration under Biden.

Then there is the issue of confidence in elections. Those who believe the false claims that the 2020 election was stolen also likely believe the 2024 election will be suspicious.

The chicken is the egg: Fox News is right-wing because its audience is right-wing, and its audience is right-wing because the network is right-wing. The result is a divergent vision of reality, which sometimes tends toward the surreal.

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