Here’s a surprising new finding: those who watch Fox News “are less likely to know what’s going on in the world.” Okay, so it’s not such a surprise, and it hardly took a study for those of us who have discussed current events with viewers of Fox News to come to this conclusion. Nonetheless, the ramifications of this level of “more is less” political intelligence quotient is quite disturbing in regards to how well we can continue to function as a republic.
In our society, individual perceptions of world and domestic events appear to be increasingly filtered through wholly different perceptional lenses. This growing gap between how one group sees world and domestic events as compared to its counterpart makes the ability for political compromise more difficult. With the monumental failure of the congressional supercommittee, it is certainly compromise that has, at least momentarily, become an artifact of politics in the U.S.
The failure of the supercommittee does not, however, necessarily represent two different lens of perception unable to find common ground. We may never know how much of this failure was due to “pure” ideological differences and how much to the political pressure from constituents back home and lobbyists near the doorstep.
It is the political right, however, that Fox News appeals to and therefore it is these viewers who stand the greatest likelihood of having the facts wrong about a given issue. Not many individuals outside of the orbit of the Fox News universe would be surprised at this finding, but a strong republic relies on a well-informed citizenry, one that is willing to discuss issues of importance with respect and integrity. It seems ironic, uncomfortably so, that those on the right who claim to love their country so much appear to be the ones who are aggressively chipping away at its foundations the most. “Don’t tread on me” has really come to mean, “ignorance is bliss.”