Republicans and Fox News – joined at the remote

REPUBLICANS AND FOX NEWS – JOINED AT THE REMOTE…. Pew Research Center has published its latest study on Americans’ news-consuming habits, and as always, it’s chock full of fascinating items. Kevin Drum, however, flags one of the key takeaways.

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This chart shows the partisan trends in viewership for the cable news networks. What I didn’t fully appreciate was just how close the results were 10 years ago — in 2000, there wasn’t much of a partisan difference at all. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents watched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News in largely similar totals.

Over course of the decade, however, there’s been quite a shift — in one specific case. Putting aside the boost in viewers during the presidential campaign, Democrats and Independents watch CNN and MSNBC in very similar proportion to the numbers from 10 years ago. But note the shift among Republicans, who’ve abandoned the mainstream networks to rely heavily on Fox News.

As Kevin noted, “In other words, Democrats and Independents have changed their viewing habits only slightly while Republicans have flocked to Fox… [A]s Fox has steadily amped up its conservative branding, conservatives have decided that’s all they want to hear. The echo chamber must be getting pretty deafening over there.”

I’d just add, by the way, that elsewhere in the same Pew Research report, we see that Republicans not only rely heavily on Fox News, but it’s literally the only news outlet available that the GOP rank-and-file consider credible. The only outlet that comes close is the Wall Street Journal — another Murdoch-owned outlet — and it’s still a distant second.

Republicans are aware that mainstream news outlets exist; they just don’t trust the real news organizations.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of Republicans having their own cable news network, fundamentally changing the course of contemporary American politics.