News media and misperceptions

In 2004, Kull, Ramsay, and Lewis reported the results of a survey of misperceptions about the Iraq War. Respondents were asked if 1) the U.S. had found clear evidence that Saddam Hussein was working closely with al Qaeda (correct answer: NO), 2) the U.S. had found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (correct answer: NO), and 3) if the world community at large generally favored or disfavored the U.S. war in Iraq (correct answer: DISFAVOR).

They then compared the results to the respondents’ primary source of political news. This is the percentage of people among each news media group that held at least one misconception about the Iraq war:

  • NPR/PBS: 20%
  • Print media: 50%
  • NBC: 55%
  • CNN: 55%
  • ABC: 60%
  • CBS: 70%
  • Fox News: 80%

We report, you decide.

Any guesses about which source of news would be associated with the highest level of misconceptions about more recent events such as the health care reform debate, immigration, or President Obama’s religion and philosophical views?


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