- Carl Bernstein
author, All the President's Men
If you watch Fox News, listen to Rush Limbaugh, or most other right-wing propaganda media and blogs, you're DISinformed, by a deliberate and calculated pattern of inaccurate information and deliberate attempts to create moral panics.
- Dog Gone
disinformation (ˌdɪsɪnfəˈmeɪʃən) — n
false information intended to deceive or mislead
- World English Dictionary
Now one study has made official what I have been saying here for some time, particularly about Fox News as a source of information. Here is the Maryland Study, "Misinformation and the 2010 Election, A Study of the U.S. Electorate", so you can read it for yourself.
There has been extensive coverage of the study elsewhere, including the New York Times. There has been the de rigeur counter-attack from the right, particularly from Fox News - a rather limp and impotent attempt, for them, compared to their usual standards of snark:
So, in addition to providing the actual study, I am making the obvious link between inaccurate information and the 2010 election results. The only explanation that makes any sense for the results of that election cycle is to understand the significant segment of a mis-motivated, disinformed electorate segment (see moral panic), and the calculated results of the right wing election-cum-auction purchase by the right with the efforts of Fox News and the big media buys of the groups profiled by the factcheck.org conference, "Cash Attack 2010". The link of the Right Wing false messages to the outcome of the 2010 elections is also reflected in the Politifact.com 2010 Lie of the Year, the false claim that the Obama Health Care Reform passed last spring constituted a 'government take over'.
There is a clear link between the deliberate disinformation of the right, by the right, established by this study which charts the inaccurate beliefs relating to politics and economics that have resulted from that deliberate disinformation campaign. We can see more local versions in the voter fraud hoaxes perpetrated by groups like Minnesota Majority, statewide, and Monty Jensen, more locally, in Crow Wing County, Minnesota. In other states we have hysteria over voter frauds like that which was circulated by the fake Fox News segment about the Cincinnati High School Ice Cream Bribes for votes. (Can anyone else find an update, or better, a correction by Fake News for this story? I couldn't.)
The real question remains for me, why does the right tolerate this from their media? Why do conservatives, be they Republican or Tea Party or non-aligned, not only accept this garbage, but embrace it, reward it, and seek it out, both in media figures like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and in political figures like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, the epically-inaccurate Michele Bachmann, or any number of others? For these talking heads to be successful, people have to WANT to believe them, they have to go out of their way to avoid factual contradictions of them.
In contrast to that garbage from the right, I've provided the Maryland study, along with the steady stream of information from politifact.com and factcheck.org. In direct opposition to it, my colleague Penigma and I will be releasing the 2010 Pennies, an award of our 2cents worth of opinion for certain completely arbitrary categories (chosen because they were fun for us).
And, in a pushback against the Fox News response to the Maryland U. study, I will provide you more information about the organization and the researchers that conducted the study - which does not reflect the alleged party habits of students. Let's start with their website, so Penigma readers can check them out for yourselves: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/
World Public Opinion. org is operated at the University of Maryland through: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/ by the Program on International Policy Attitudes.
Program on International Policy Attitudes
"The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) was established in 1992 with the purpose of giving public opinion a greater voice in international relations. PIPA conducts in-depth studies of public opinion that include polls, focus groups and interviews. It integrates its findings together with those of other organizations. It actively seeks the participation of members of the policy community in developing its polls so as to make them immediately relevant to the needs of policymakers. PIPA is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)."To address the Fox News claims about the University of Maryland, which appear at least to me to be an attempt to discredit the study, here is a sample of the staff who oversee the program, and their reputations. These are not exactly not-studious-partying-people, or experts that can be casually dismissed. These are not policy lightweights.
Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). He directs the PIPA/Knowledge Networks poll of the US public, plays a central role in the BBC World Service Poll of global opinion and the polls of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and is the principal investigator of a major study of social support of anti-American terrorist groups in Islamic countries. He regularly appears in the US and international media, providing analysis of public opinion, and gives briefings to the US Congress, the State Department, NATO, the United Nations and the European Commission. His articles have appeared in Political Science Quarterly, Foreign Policy, Public Opinion Quarterly, Harpers, The Washington Post and other publications. His most recent book, co-authored with I.M. Destler, is Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism (Brookings). He is a faculty member of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Association of Public Opinion Research.
Penigma readers who wish to explore the University of Maryland or the researchers and organization behind this study, to evaluate their criticism of Fox News (and other news sources) can follow the links. These are not slackers; these are not individuals, not an organization pushing a liberal agenda. This is legitimate criticism, and should be regarded as such, especially by those who find themselves consumers of conservative media and blogs.