David Zurawik

Fox swamps liberal media on ideological loyalty, survey finds

When it comes to getting information on politics and government, Fox News has a far greater hold on conservatives than any single media outlet has on liberals.

That's one of the finding of a new survey by the Pew Research Center, and I suspect it won't shock many on the right or the left. Nor will the finding that those who define themselves as consistently conservative or liberal live in very different information eco systems be a big surprise.


But the online survey of 2,901 members of the center's American Trends Panel nevertheless offers some strong supporting data as to the differences between the mindsets and media habits of conservatives and liberals in these highly polarized and snarly political times.

The extent of the loyalty to Fox is the most intriguing aspect of the survey to me, with Pew finding that 47 percent of consistent conservatives name Fox News as their "main sources of news about government and politics."


Consistent liberals, on the other hand, line up with 13 percent listing NPR as their main source of news on government and politics, followed by MSNBC at 12 percent and The New York Times at 10 percent.

That's a very different landscape, and it attests to the power of Fox when it comes to conservative thinking and political life these days.

The top three liberal news sources only combine for 35 percent  compared to the 47 for Fox.

I am also a little surprised to find out that so many liberals would rank MSNBC alongside NPR and the Times as their main source of information on government. In fact, given what a reckless operation MSNBC has become, that's actually disturbing. Do consistent liberals not see differences among NPR, MSNBC and The New York Times?

I guess love of hearing your own bias fed back to you trumps any interest in getting the kind of reliable hard news the Times offers beyond its opinion pages.

Here's another finding of note: liberals dropping or blocking friends in social media who don't agree with them.

As Pew describes it:

On Facebook and in personal relationships, consistent conservatives are most likely to hear political opinions similar to their own; consistent liberals are most likely to drop a friend because of political views. Two-thirds (66%) of consistent conservatives say most of their close friends share their views on government and politics. Roughly half (47%) of consistent conservatives who pay attention to politics on Facebook say the posts they see are mostly or always in line with their own. Roughly a quarter (24%) of consistent liberals say they stopped talking to someone; and four-in-ten (44%) who use Facebook say they have blocked or defriended someone on social media, because they disagreed with something that person said or posted about politics.


Here's a finding on "trust" that further attests to the power of Fox and our political polarization today:

Fully 88% of consistent conservatives trust Fox News. The four outlets trusted by at least half of consistent conservatives – Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck – are the four distrusted by at least half of consistent liberals. 

Read the full report here.