Fox News Viewed as Most Ideological Network

Via Pew Reasearch

The Fox News Channel is viewed by Americans in more ideological terms than other television news networks. And while the public is evenly divided in its view of hosts of cable news programs having strong political opinions, more Fox News viewers see this as a good thing than as a bad thing.

Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they think of Fox News as “mostly conservative,” 14% say it is “mostly liberal,” and 24% say it is “neither in particular.” Opinion about the ideological orientation of other TV news outlets is more mixed: while many view CNN and the three broadcast networks as mostly liberal, about the same percentages say they are neither in particular. However, somewhat more say MSNBC is mostly liberal than say it is neither in particular, by 36% to 27%.

The perceptions of those who regularly tune into these news networks are similar to those of the public. Nearly half (48%) of regular Fox viewers say the network is mostly conservative. About four-in-ten (41%) regular viewers of CNN describe the network as mostly liberal and 36% of regular MSNBC viewers say the same about that network.

The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted October 23-26 among 1,001 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also shows that Americans followed news about the spread of the swine flu and the availability of a vaccine more closely than any other major news story last week. And the percentage of Americans saying they followed swine flu news very closely (43%) now matches the highest levels of interest reached during the previous flu outbreak in May.

The survey also finds the public is evenly split in its view of cable news hosts “having strong opinions about politics.” About four-in-ten (42%) see this as a good thing while an identical percentage sees it as a bad thing. By 51% to 36%, regular Fox News viewers view cable hosts with strong political opinions as a good thing; regular viewers of other TV news outlets are more evenly divided over opinionated cable news hosts.

More Fox Viewers See Other Networks as Liberal

The perception of Fox News as mostly conservative is shared equally by regular Fox News viewers and regular viewers of other TV news networks. Half of regular CNN viewers see the Fox News Channel as mostly conservative, as do 48% its own viewers, 48% of regular MSNBC viewers and 45% of the regular viewers of national nightly network news on ABC, NBC and CBS.

By contrast, regular Fox News viewers are more likely than those who tune into other news networks to see those networks as mostly liberal. For instance, 50% of regular Fox News viewers say NBC News is mostly liberal, compared with only about third of regular viewers of CNN (35%), MSNBC (31%) and the nightly network news (34%). There are comparable differences between how Fox News viewers and other news audiences see the ideologies of CBS News and ABC News.

Nearly half of Fox News viewers also say that CNN (49%) and MSNBC (47%) are mostly liberal. However, nearly as many CNN viewers (41%) say that network is mostly liberal; similarly, 43% of regular MSNBC viewers say that network is mostly liberal.

Views of the networks’ ideologies also differ greatly by personal ideology. More than half of liberals (57%) say Fox News is mostly conservative, compared with 46% of moderates and 44% of conservatives.

By contrast, 48% of conservatives say that MSNBC is mostly liberal, compared with 31% of moderates and 29% of liberals. These are similar to views of CNN: 51% of conservatives say the network is mostly liberal, while 33% of moderates and 28% of liberals agree. There are comparable ideological differences in perceptions of the ideologies of NBC News, ABC News and CBS News.

Divided Over Opinionated Cable Hosts

The public is split over whether it is a good thing or bad thing for hosts of cable news shows to have strong opinions about politics; 42% see this as a good thing while as many see it as a bad thing. In July 2003, 47% said it was a good thing for hosts to have strong political opinions, while 40% saw it as a bad thing.

Just over half of regular Fox News viewers (51%) say it is a good thing, while 36% say it is a bad thing. Opinions are more evenly divided among regular viewers of the other cable news channels and network news, as well as regular newspaper readers and online news users.

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