Dear Britons, I know you get a fair amount of publicity about the Fox News Channel, and you also get articles like this one that says we trust Fox News the most to make you wonder and fret about us American types. Please let me ease your concerns.
First of all, upon looking at the press release detail, the study did not say we trust Fox News the most. It may be the most trusted as far as national/cable news goes, but we trust our local news more than Fox News. We also watch our local news because we want to know what is going on in our communities and need the weather and traffic reports more than knowing Sean Hannity’s opinion on Donald Trump’s stupid one-liner of the day.
There is also the factor of viewership. We live in the land of cable and satellite and have better things to watch than Megyn Kelly being indignant. We also have a population of about 318,900,000. Current estimate of the adult population being 18+ is 76.7%, so we are looking at a figure of 244,600,000 eligible voters. Looking at the ratings right here from AdWeek, Fox News has an average range of 1,000,000 to 1,700,000 total viewers per week. That’s only 1/2 of a percentage point of the American adult population. Of course with ratings and averages, it can go as high as 1% on a good week, but we are still talking a very small fringe group.
Thirdly, a lot of our trust in the news is personal and generational in outlook, as this Pew poll demonstrates. Fox News is basically for the older demographic. (The median age of a Fox News viewer, last I saw, was 68.8.) And the millennials won’t touch it with a barge poll.
The problem with Fox News is that the rhetoric is so outrageous that the national media can’t stop promoting it; the publicity draws people in; so it seems bigger than what it really is. It takes on a Katie Hopkins quality, and we give it more attention than it deserves. And I know I am contributing to the whole thing by trying to bring some rationality to the subject.
Fox News is far from a credible journalistic outlet and were absolute boneheads when it called Birmingham and Paris hotbeds of radical Islam. I get that. Just remember, it is basically The Daily Mail with gory video (but no nudity) and continuous blather designed to paint an America that only would have existed if the Europeans were more thorough in the 17th century and wiped all the natives out. So when the likes of a Charlie Brooker and other satirists cast their critiques, as right well they should, they are shooting fish in a barrel and not making grand social commentaries on America as a whole. They are just dissecting the curmudgeonly great uncle at Christmas dinner.