Thomas Jefferson said, “I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession, unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”
In the United States today, there appears to be a difference in the information our citizens have, based upon where they get their news.
A University of Maryland study found that the majority of Fox News viewers who watched the channel daily erroneously believed statements such as “Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring” and “That it is not clear that President Obama was born in the United States.”
The University of Maryland study indicated that the effects of being misinformed increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure to Fox News. Another study from Fairleigh Dickinson University indicates that Fox News viewers were significantly less informed on topics than those that watched NPR.
A study published April 7, 2022, co-authored by David Broockman, who teaches at UC-Berkeley, and Joshua Kalla, who teaches at Yale, indicates staunchly conservative Fox News viewers who spent a month tuning in to CNN instead of Fox reported a broad shift in their political opinions — until they returned to watching Fox.
Dan Froomkin, in an article for NBC News Now, published April 9, 2022, in his analysis on the Yale-UC Berkeley study, indicates he believes the study indicates the problem with Fox “News,” the cable TV channel, isn’t just what it is — it’s also what it isn’t. It is often a purveyor of propaganda and misinformation. What it’s not is a source of “news” — at least not by any normal definition.
Our democracy depends on all of us getting accurate news. Even “Pearls Before Swine,” in the April 10 comic section of the Star Tribune, makes fun of unbalanced and dishonest news and talks about the “Fairness Doctrine.” The “Fairness Doctrine,” before it was abolished in 1987, required all news broadcasters to present news that is honest and balanced.
Maybe the “Fairness Doctrine” should be reinstated. Absent that, all of us owe it to our democracy to use multiple balanced news sources to get our news, in case some of the news from our favorite news sources is not accurate.
Maybe a few times a week, to insure we are getting honest and accurate news, we should listen to news from sources such as National Public Radio (NPR) or our public television station. What do you think?