The Fox of Life. Uh, I mean “Facts” of Life.

Today’s New York Times Interpreter newsletter is simultaneously reiterative (we all sort of know what segment of our population gets its news from Fox TV) and alarming. Because way, way too many people get their “reliable source” news from TV, period.

Dear souls, haven’t you been paying attention? I’ve explained that you can’t get the Facts of Life from TV. You must, must, must get them from reading at least one credible newspaper every day.

To collapse this radical piece of information into a digestible tweet-like tidbit:

…you do need to read the news. While TV is OK for debates and sports–events that allow us to hear and view the unexpurgated whole scope without distortions–even a sophisticated mind can’t tease complex facts out of heavily edited, selectively weighted and histrionic TV news reportage, let alone pundits jousting and talking over each other.

No, the only way to absorb facts is to get your hands dirty with newsprint.

Yet look at this Interpreter excerpt and weep. Oh, OK, maybe you won’t weep but I certainly did:

…a new study from Gallup and the Knight Foundation suggests that there’s nothing metaphorical about this divide: Republicans and Democrats in America are living in such different information environments that they probably do have very different understandings of what’s going on around them.
In a survey, the researchers did something a little different from most media studies. Instead of asking respondents what kinds of media they consume, they asked American adults to name an “objective news source.” That way they could find out which sources people actually rely on for trusted information, not just which ones they encounter regularly.
A whopping 60 percent of Republicans who answered that question named Fox News as a source they trust to be reliable. After that, numbers plummeted. CNN and local news were tied at 4 percent each, and all others at 3 percent or less. (The New York Times got 0 percent. Ouch, guys.)
Democrats, by contrast, were spread out over multiple different sources. CNN was most trusted, at 21 percent. NPR was next, with 15 percent. From there the numbers flattened out quickly, showing 3-7 percent for a range of others, including the BBC (5 percent), New York Times (5 percent) and PBS News (4 percent).
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