The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization, has published an interesting report on Nov 18, 2020 that explores the vast influence that Fox news has. Being nonpartisan means that their title is polite – “Trumpism After Trump? How Fox News Structures Republican Attitudes“. As you can see from the image above, I’ve no fine line to walk here, so I can be a bit more blunt.
There are a few things that we do all know concerning Fox News. What this report does is to confirm much of that opinion by using raw hard data to verify it as fact. It does however contain a few surprises.
The Fox News Demographic
If asked, most of us would assume that Fox News viewers are older than average, more male than average, whiter than average, less educated than average, and more religious than average. When they crunched the numbers then that is exactly what they found …
Fox News Republicans are the 40% of Republicans who trust Fox News most among television news sources. Compared to the nation as a whole, Fox News Republicans are whiter (81% vs. 63% for all Americans), more likely to be male (57% vs. 48% of all Americans), and older (32% are over age 65 vs. 21% of all Americans). Fox News Republicans are more likely than all Americans to identify as white evangelical Protestants (36% vs. 13%), much less likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated (5% vs. 25%), and more likely to say they attend religious services at least once a week (46% vs. 27%).
What is rather interesting, and this is a big surprise for many, is that they appear to be also a distinctly separate Republican demographic. The report refers to them as “Fox News Republicans” to distinguish them from other Republicans.
Fox News Republicans are also distinct from the other 60% of Republicans in several ways. Fox News Republicans are more likely than non–Fox News Republicans to identify as politically conservative (77% vs. 59% of non–Fox News Republicans) and are older (32% are over age 65, vs. 20% of non–Fox News Republicans). Fox News Republicans are more likely than non-–Fox News Republicans to identify as white evangelical Protestants (36% vs. 26%) and to attend religious services at least once a week (46% vs. 35%), and are less likely to identify as religiously unaffiliated (5% vs. 15%).
For completeness, as you might perhaps guess, when it comes to education, they tend to be less educated than average. That perhaps explains their existence. People who are more prone to being manipulated emotionally because they tend not to think analytically quite naturally gravitate towards Fox News output.
That observation is not designed to disparage them, it is the way it is. (If you are a Fox News viewer, then I feel I should apologise for using the word “disparage”, it might be a bit challenging for you to grasp and so you will need to ask a friend to go look it up for you and explain it)
Here is a table that sums up the PRRI data …
Fox News Republican – Beliefs
When fed a constant daily diet of political propaganda, (or to be a tad less polite; bullshit), then the opinions that prevail are not surprising, and also well-known.
Trump, Pence and McConnell are all very highly rated. What is perhaps a surprise is that this attitude contrasts with most other Republicans and so they truly are distinct …
Here are a few further snippets, and yes, none of this is a surprise … and yet it is, because once again the split between Fox News Republicans vs Normal Republicans emerges …
Fox News Republicans have overwhelmingly negative views of most Democratic political figures. More than nine in ten Fox News Republicans (94%) express unfavorable views of former President Barack Obama, including nearly two-thirds who rate him very unfavorably (65%). In comparison, just 35% of all Americans and 68% of non–Fox News Republicans report unfavorable views of Obama.
Similarly, Fox News Republicans are nearly universal in their views of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. Nearly all Fox News Republicans rate Biden unfavorably (97%), including more than eight in ten who rate him very unfavorably (84%). Non–Fox News Republicans also have overwhelmingly negative views of Biden, with 83% who rate him unfavorably; however, their views are less intense, with 62% who rate him very unfavorably. Fox News Republicans are about twice as likely as all Americans to rate Biden unfavorably (49%).
To be specific …
Trump Worship Prevails
Yep, same story.
Nearly all Fox News Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing as president (97%) vs … (Oh come now, you can see where this is going). And indeed yes … vs Non–Fox News Republicans are somewhat softer in their assessments of Trump’s job performance, with 78%.
Keep digging into the report and it is rinse and repeat, because the same pattern continues.
Now here is a jaw dropping insight.
The Fox News Crowd truly believe that the most discriminated people in the US are white and Christian.
Back in the real world, as you can see from the above chart, most US Citizens (in grey, last 3 items)) see it as it really is …
Majorities of all Americans say that Black people (75%), Hispanic people (69%), and Asian people (55%) face a lot of discrimination.
Summing it all up
It is all perhaps best put by Hemant who expresses it like this …