Study: Fox News, CNN, MSNBC are "least informative" news sources

1,185 respondents nationwide were asked about what news sources they consumed in the past week and then were asked a variety of questions about current political and economic events in the U.S. and abroad. On average, people were able to answer correctly 1.8 of 4 questions about international news, and 1.6 of 5 questions about domestic affairs. 

…the study concludes that media sources have a significant impact on the number of questions that people were able to answer correctly. The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well.  And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly. 

“These differences may be small, but even small differences are important when we’re talking about millions of people,” said Cassino. “We expect that watching the news should help people learn, but the most popular of the national media sources – Fox, CNN, MSNBC – seem to be the least informative.”  

The American people don’t often pay attention to what’s going on in the world until they have to.

John King, CNN anchor 

I don’t think this is controversial. Isn’t this obviously true?


Jeffrey Sachs and Niall Ferguson Debate Occupy Wall Street

This gets a little heated. For such a nice guy, Sachs can be one tough bastard. 


Fuck You, CNN

Really, CNN? Really? The Wall Street protestors are ridiculous and have no goal but the Tea Party movement is worthy of co-hosting a debate with you?

The group that despises deregulation and is troubled by growing income inequality is mocked but the group that believed in an Obama birth certificate conspiracy is given creditability by your own network? Like I said: fuck you, CNN. 


Majority of Americans Support Secularism, Gay Marriage, and the Department of Education

Some recent polls from CNN:


Jon Huntsman discusses President Obama, the Tea Party, and Captain Beefheart 


Is Wolf Blitzer the Dullest Journalist in America?

Ha! How true. He also might be among the dumbest journalists in America. See above for his humiliating appearance on Celebrity Jeopardy

from Slate:

To excel in journalism, says Blitzer, you must be polite, honest, talk to a lot of people—especially the well-connected and knowledgeable—and consult a lot of websites. After I commented earlier today on the flatness of Blitzer’s tedium, my colleague Charles Homans tweeted his own Blitzer-inspired tips for journalists: “Breathing is important. Remember to eat and sleep when necessary.”

Beating on Blitzer is an old game. I went to town on him in a 2008 column in which I analyzed the limited Blitzer-ese dialect, and that same year Greg Veis ridiculed the poor bastard in the New Republic, writing:

The man’s so devoid of charisma that you can picture him reporting, in his endearing monotone, that a comet is headed straight for CNN studios and that he’ll be prematurely robbed of his molecular composition and the chance to ever see his family again in seven, six, just five seconds now.


George W. Bush looks like Abraham Lincoln compared with this crowd.

- John Avlon, on 2012 Republican candidates


In 2009, Senate Republicans filibustered a stunning 80% of major legislation. Given how the chamber is composed— two Senators per state, no matter how thinly populated— people representing just 10% of the country can block all legislation. Is that how a democracy should function?

- Fareed Zakaria


63% of Americans Want Higher Taxes on Businesses and the Rich



Fareed Zakaria Explains Washington’s “Extraordinary Polarization”  


Poll: 67% of Americans Want to Tax the Rich, Only 20% Approve of GOP Debt Ceiling Deal

This is just one more piece of evidence that Republicans have turned sharply to the right and are drifting farther away from the center. Their position on the debt ceiling deal is simply not reasonable, nor is it popular with Americans.

Despite our country’s unacceptable income inequality, we have a major political party insisting on maintaining the status quo. This might sound socialistic to some (which is part of the problem) but the richest Americans are getting richer at everyone else’s expense and nothing within the GOP’s current Tea Party inspired platform will change that.  

from CNN

"A full 67% of Americans favor a deal to raise the debt ceiling that includes taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, according to a poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University."

"And according to Gallup, only 20% of Americans want a deal that consists only of spending cuts. That’s the position of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and many of his colleagues.”

"Instead, most Americans want the deal to include a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, something that is much closer to the bargaining position staked out by Democrats.”


CNN Must Include Gary Johnson in Tomorrow’s Debate

How, one might ask CNN, can an unknown candidate become known if they are not allowed to participate in debates?

After all, if we just ignored everything that was temporarily unpopular, then nobody would be watching CNN, would they? 


Donald Trump: A Fascinating and Terrifying Study in Megalomania and Irrationality

I admit a sort of quasi-obsession with Donald Trump’s campaign, whether it be real or fake. Something is fascinating about his ability to convey authority and expertise while having little of either. He was dead wrong about Obama’s birth certificate yet he turned Obama’s release of the long-form certificate into a political victory. Upon exiting his private jet, Trump proclaimed to the media that he was “very proud” of himself. Does he not understand that he was wrong? He said either Obama wasn’t born in America or that Obama was a Muslim. Neither of these things were true. He repeatedly claimed that the first certificate Obama released was somehow insufficient even though it’s the perfectly legal, legitimate document given to every citizen of Hawaii upon request. He was shown to be a vile propagandist whose rapidly escalating popularity in the polls was directly related to his birther sentiments. Yet now he blames the media for always asking him about the birth certificate when it was Trump who first raised the issue and discussed it at length. He even sent “investigators” to Hawaii who were supposedly discovering “unbelievable” things. Trump could not have been more wrong yet he reinvents this whole fiasco as a victory. 

I’m tempted to philosophize about why Trump thinks the way he does and how he’s able to use blunt and sometimes wildly counter-factual statements without being met with a barrage of skepticism from the media. He has the unique talent of speaking with such force and authority that millions of people automatically agree with him. This seems to be a trait present in many successful businessmen. The profession has a habit of breeding accomplishment through skills of persuasion rather than intelligence and thoughtfulness. It is how uninteresting people with no discernible talent are able to publish bestselling books and get their own TV shows. If you can speak as if you know what you’re talking about, chances are people will think you actually do. Trump has this talent in spades and he is conning the public into supporting his entirely hollow political platform, like snake oil salesmen of old.

A particularly interesting exchange occurred between Trump and CNN’s John King yesterday. Trump insisted, despite King’s denials, that CNN conducted a poll showing Trump neck-in-neck with Obama in a hypothetical election. Trump was of course unable to ever produce evidence of the poll despite repeatedly insisting that it existed. This is yet another example of a growing trend. Trump has repeatedly “heard” things and insists they are true without any evidence whatsoever. I documented some of these lies a little while ago.

It’s rather stunning to see a public figure, never mind a potential presidential candidate, behave in this manner. One wonders what it takes to get Trump to admit he is wrong. Prove him wrong and he will simultaneously blame someone else and revise his own history of wrongness. Confront him with an embarrassing failure and he will instantly turn it into a magnificent achievement. Give him a soapbox and he will stand tall, spreading rumors and lies. 

Intellectually honest and serious people do not think or behave this way. Trump has demonstrated a streak of irrationality matched by few others. Typically a politician risks believing ridiculous things due to blind loyalty to their party or ideology. Trump’s party is himself and his ideology is unwavering belief in his own perceived greatness. He is a political celebrity in the mold of Sarah Palin. He is someone who can talk for hours and govern not at all. In short, he undermines public discourse and represents the worst aspects of modern politics. Hopefully his exit from the political arena will be as quick as his unsolicited entrance.