A statistic cited in the New York Times more than two years ago flattened the Erik Wemple Blog. A profile of the Fox News program “Fox & Friends” noted that the highly rated morning program drew almost a quarter of its audience from Democrats or Democratic-leaning types and nine percent from independents.
Perhaps all those Dems were hate-watching “Fox & Friends”; perhaps they just wanted to apprise themselves of what the opposition was saying; or perhaps all their remotes somehow froze on the Fox News channel. Whatever the case, it was an interesting data point for a program that defines cable-news idiocy and whose hosts jerk their knees against all things Democratic.
It’s not terribly surprising, however, if you consider the data just released by the Pew Research Journalism Project. Among the many nuggets in the report’s wide-ranging findings is the appeal of Fox News across ideological groups. Have a look at the peaks and valleys in the graphic below:
Let’s allow Pew to sum up the implications: “While Fox News is a dominant source for conservatives, it also draws a significant portion of its audience from across the ideological spectrum: Those with mixed ideological views make up 37% of its audience (they make up 36% of all panelists), and those to the left of center account for 18% of its audience (14% mostly liberal, 4% consistently liberal).” Another way of slicing things up is to take the “mixed” category and the two liberal categories, and you end up with 55 percent of the Fox News audience that doesn’t self-identify as conservative.
One clue on this front: As we pointed out in an audit of Fox News daytime coverage, the network does a goodly amount of crime-and-justice stories and other coverage that steers clear of political or ideological content. And another Pew study, for instance, found that Fox News blew away MSNBC in terms of the factual reporting that it presented on its airwaves and clocked in just about even with CNN on that front. Perhaps such segments draw people from around the political spectrum.
MSNBC’s numbers show almost a mirror image of Fox News’s ideological distribution. “Lean Forward” Inc. hauls in an audience that’s 18 percent conservative, as compared to Fox News’s 18 percent liberal (MSNBC is a bit weaker in the “mixed” category). Though the study doesn’t specify just what’s drawing MSNBC’s conservative viewers, there’s gotta be something pleasing about yelling back at Ed Schultz.