Cable news networks have a level of influence that far exceeds their audience, since their actual audience is actually quite small. Most people simple don't watch cable news networks, but the ones that do are generally influentials.The fact that the audiences are small but consist of influentials suggests that watching cable news is something done by the more well-to-do upper class groups of people. The fact that the audiences are small confirms that the mass news media on cable TV has broken down into niche markets. So this is a report on an upper class (probably upper middle) consisting of influentials and it's also a report on which media outlets cater to the different categories in that class.
Republicans watch Fox News and nothing else, Democrats split between MSNBC and CNN, and Independents watch nothing. MSNBC, in particular, depends on Democrats for the vast majority of its audience. One would think they'd realize this and get rid of Joe Scarborough to boost its morning ratings.
The South, unlike the rest of the country, appears to have their TV dials stuck on "FOX NEWS". Except for the youth, that is. 82 percent of 18-29-year-old respondents never watched FNC.
We then asked, "When it comes to accuracy and trustworthiness as a source of news would you say that [Media Org] is extremely reliable, reliable, unreliable, or extremely unreliable?"
Combining "extremely reliable" and "reliable", and "unreliable" and "extremely unreliable", Fox News clocked in at 35-41. Republicans (and the South) obviously think they're the word of god, while Democrats think it's shit.
CNN came in at 44-34. For Republicans, it was 20-61. They actually believe all that crap about the "Communist News Network". CNN garnered good numbers from Democrats (56-20) and Independents (48-30). Again, the South (28-53) was at odds with the rest of the country, which generally gave the network high marks for accuracy and trustworthiness.
As for MSNBC, Democrats gave it the highest marks (37-7), followed by Independents (24-16). Republicans, of course, think the network is crap -- 6-31. MSNBC was easily the least-recognized network of the bunch, with 60 percent of respondents unable to give an opinion. That "not sure" number was only 22 percent for CNN, and 24 percent for FNC.
The fact that the South is FOX territory tends to confirm my own belief that the conflict between what are politically labelled conservatives and liberals is actually a culture clash between rural traditionalists and urban modernists. These two cultures are socialized differently and in fact even think differently.
It's clear from the political clashes between them that the two groups consider very different issues to be of greatest priority for America, and the way each group treats government is an outgrowth of those different ways of thinking and different priorities. I find it no surprise, for example, that the rural traditionalists are also exclusionists - thus the immigration issue, and the modernists support diversity.
Traditionalists are not fact based. They think in terms of what the traditional authorities tell them is true. They will not be swayed by facts, no matter how obvious. I'd suspect that FOX News has made themselves into one of those authorities, along with Church leaders and high level political authorities like the President. This latter is probably why putting a liberal Democrat 0r worse, an African American, into the position of President is considered the equivalent to lese majeste or worse. That's why electing Clinton over George H. W. Bush, a member of an old-line upper class family, was so emotionally upsetting to so many conservatives. Clinton's enemies had to redeem the Presidency from his presence.
No, I can't prove this, but it fits. It explains a pattern of facts that I have not seen otherwise adequately explained.
I stated above that traditionalists are not fact based, but that I cannot prove it. A group of researchers, however, describe what they call Motivated Reasoning which is exactly what I was talking about.
Traditionalists have an emotional need to be "right" and so they reject facts that show they are not. Motivated Reasoning describes how they go about rejecting those facts they find uncomfortable. But where do they get the mistaken ideas they consider "right?" FOX News and the other Murdoch propaganda outlets as well as such right-wing propaganda organizations as Regent University, Liberty University, the Discovery Institute, the Heritage Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the CATO Institute and others.