Do Racists Like Fox News, or Does Fox Make People Racist?

Truly one of the biggest chicken or egg questions in modern time is “Are people racist because they watch Fox news? Or is Fox just where today’s racist goes to get their info? breaks it down.

Since the election of Obama in 2008, Americans have become increasingly polarized about racial issues. At the same time, Americans have also become more polarized in their news media viewing habits. In the wake of horrifying events like the racially motivated mass murder in a Charleston church, some have connected these trends; Jon Stewart (Comedy Central,3/19/15), for example, criticized Fox News for ignoring the reality of systemic racism.

Is there any merit to such criticisms? Do media and racial polarization reinforce each other? Is there a connection between news media viewing habits and attitudes about racial equality? Based on an analysis of the American National Election Studies 2012 dataset, we find that white respondents who regularly watch Fox News are more likely to express attitudes of symbolic racism and racial resentment. This is especially true of those Fox News viewers who live in the South.

One common expression of racial resentment is the stereotype that black people have disproportionate influence over the levers of power. Though people of color are far more likely to live under an unrepresentative city council and have far less influence over policy, many racist whites wrongly think that government disproportionately benefits non-whites through social programs.

Our analysis suggests that regular Fox News viewers are more likely to hold such opinions, even after controlling for other factors such as individual race, age, income, education, partisanship, ideology, religiosity and geography. In the graph below, we compare conservative white Republicans who watch Fox News regularly to those who do not. The results show that regular Fox Newsviewers are significantly more likely to think that blacks have too much political influence. Those Fox News viewers who live in the South are the most likely to hold such attitudes.


Read the rest here.

Brian Whitney is the Author of Raping the Gods