NEW YORK - A new survey of 1,502 adults released Sunday by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that despite the mass appeal of the Internet and cable news since a previous poll in 1989, Americans’ knowledge of national affairs has slipped a little. For example, only 69% know that Dick Cheney is vice president, while 74% could identify Dan Quayle in that post in 1989. Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot — with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind. Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers.
How sad is it when those of us devoted to fake news programs actually know more about the world around us than those who watch Fox News Channel…which, while arguably also a fake news outlet, masquerades as a legitimate news operation? Fair and balanced? Yeah, but we like ‘em big and stoopid….
Of course, to enjoy political satire, it helps to be reasonably knowledgeable about the political landscape. Besides, I’d imagine that most Fox News Channel aficionados are too busy trying to pick the scabs off their knuckles. If you’re looking for news (or at least a reasonable approximation thereof), CNN is probably your choice. If you’re looking for indoctrination, or to have your narrow, fear-based ignorant world view validated, you probably have the boob tube glued to Fox News Channel 26 hours a day, 8 days a week.
I’m not trying to be an elitist, but before you’re allowed to vote, shouldn’t you have to display at least a working knowledge of what’s going on in the world? No, I don’t think that it should be required that you be able to discourse intelligently on the differences between Shia and Sunni Islam. But shouldn’t you know who your state’s Governor is? And shouldn’t you have to demonstrate that you don’t worship at the foot of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly? In other words, shouldn’t you be able to demonstrate that you’re not impervious to reason and reality?
I know; I’m just thinking out loud, but given that 54,000,000+ Americans proved so susceptible to propaganda that they voted for Our Glorious and Benevolent Leader © AGAIN in 2004 IN SPITE OF THE CLUSTERF—K IN IRAQ…well, something’s got to give. Must we always be governed by the lowest common denominator?
Then again, perhaps 54,000,000+ Americans ARE the lowest common denominator….