For the past few days, the far-left Fox haters have been using a study by the University of Maryland's World Public Opinion project to claim that FNC "mis-informs" its viewers. There's nothing particularly novel about the claims, but some lefties are apparently under the impression that this study lends academic weight to their deranged hatred of everything Fox. It does not.
Let's start with the study's broad disclaimer, which should have (but so far has not) dissuaded the Fox haters from their rabid attacks. The study's findings (pdf) plainly state:
…misinformation cannot simply be attributed to news sources, but are part of the larger information environment that includes statements by candidates, political ads and so on.
Anyone who thought calls to refrain from extrapolating some condemnation of specific media outlets from this study would deter liberals from doing just that clearly has not dealt with the Fox-haters before.
Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik expanded on the problem with singling out Fox, or any other news organization, using this study's findings:
Most of the fact-based questions about whether certain programs were started under Bush or Obama were, in fact, the very subject matter of political attack ads. And it would be no surprise to find that far more of those ads aired on Fox, since it is by far the highest-rated cable news channel with the biggest audience. And the channel is watched by many independents and people who are likely to actually go to the polls and vote. I read nothing in the report that addressed that possible misreading of the data -- that the "misinformation" came from the political ads viewers saw on Fox and not from Fox editorial content.
These issues of course did not stop liberal blog after liberal blog after liberal blog from piling on, with equal parts righteous condemnation and jubilant "told-you-so" snark.
But there are plenty of problems inherent in using the study as a cudgel against Fox beyond the specific, direct warning to not do so, and the problems inherent in ignoring that warning. Chief among them is the study's strange means of deciding what is true.