Let's set aside our political affiliations for a minute....ok, you're right, that's not happening.  Let's try again...can we make an appeal for basic fairness?  You're right, probably not.  But let the record show I had hoped to appeal to a universal sense of what's right, wrong, and fair...if such a thing even exists anymore.

FOX News Under Attack Again

Here is the headline - Advertisers Should Take Note Of Lies.  You'll find it atop the opinion page of the Yakima Herald-Republic (YHR)....just below the smaller print that reads "Fox Viewers are Uniformed".  {Are they uninformed AND watch Fox or are they uninformed BECAUSE they watch Fox}  That is a KEY distinction.

For the record and for journalistic integrity and clarity, I operate with the understanding from journalism training that news articles and advertising are not included on a newspaper opinion page.  Should attempts to manipulate advertisers appear there...ever?

The editorial with which I have a problem is credited to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (STLPD) Editorial Board and appears on the opinion page of the 11/17/21 edition of the YHR.  Yes, we've talked about them before.

Granted, it's opinion.  Opinions can be wise, they can be misinformed, they can be delivered with positive intent and they can be delivered with poisonous intent too.

Is The Conclusion That Obvious?

The STLPD opinion piece, the one that the YHR thought you needed to see, starts out  "A new study has reached an obvious conclusion: People who rely primarily on Fox News for their information are more likely to believe dangerous falsehoods about the pandemic."  (There's MORE to it than that. We'll explain in a moment.)

The rationale for the piece is basically, FOX watchers won't get vaccinated cuz they are stupid, so that puts everyone at risk, so Fox is to blame and you should pressure Fox advertisers to pressure Fox to change their evil ways, and failing that, you should boycott/pressure Fox advertisers yourself. Cancel culture, economic hostage-taking...it's the American Way...of the left.

Articles appeared in a lot of outlets (Fox bashing is in) including one in Fox sister publication MarketWatch  that reports on the Kaiser Family Foundation survey revealing "Some 78% of U.S. adults said they either believe at least one myth about COVID-19 or are unsure whether at least one is true or false."   In other words, 3 in 4 Americans believe "at least" one myth?  That has to be a lot of other-than-Fox watchers.  Why single them out?  Because Fox is worthy of scorn?

KFF Doesn't See It As So Obvious

However, if you enough read articles about the study you learn there’s no news outlet that a majority of the public trusts.... AND the study authors wrote, "One thing this study cannot disentangle is whether this is because people are exposed to misinformation from those news sources, or whether the types of people who choose those news sources are the same ones who are pre-disposed to believe certain types of misinformation for other reasons.

ATTENTION ST LOUIS POST DISPATCH OPINION WRITERS - your editorial suggests that people should punish FOX through its advertisers or punish the advertisers directly... and yet, the very KFF survey on which you base your conclusion to punish Fox News,  could NOT itself reach the conclusion that it was FOX News reporting that caused the alleged beliefs in misinformation! 

Here is where the news and the opinion people part company. 

Don't Jump To Conclusions - Even In Opinion

 

The responsible news organization wouldn't/couldn't conclude that viewers should pressure Fox or its advertisers since, again,  the study authors conclude:

    "it’s not necessarily the case that the outlets whose audiences are more                 likely to believe falsehoods are more likely to broadcast misinformation,                 the researchers noted."

News outlets might report on the correlation between some misinformed people and Fox viewing but the editorial goes beyond the correlation and suggests making Fox News pay for a connection that wasn't demonstrated by the KFF Study.

Fox News did share a UC Davis study, "that concluded that while people who rely on Fox News for COVID-19 information were less likely to get vaccinated than CNN and MSNBC viewers, the networks’ audiences did not differ in their overall knowledge about the vaccine. There was also “no significant difference in acceptance of vaccine conspiracy beliefs between Fox News and CNN/MSNBC viewers.”

Fact Based Opinion -There's An Idea

Why does the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board pounce on a story like this?  They hate Fox and conservatives so much that they twisted their own conclusion into the story where one doesn't exist.  Correlation is not causality.

Maybe a better question is this - Why does the Yakima Herald-Republic feel it necessary to present its readers with this type of flawed piece?

Should everyone who watches or listens to FOX News "pressure" the YHR and its advertisers to be more responsible in its selection of material to champion?  The Answer is NO.

Join us for a conversation about this tomorrow on KIT.

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