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Fox & Friends Use One Study To “Prove” Liberal Bias In College

Reported by Priscilla - February 15, 2010 -

It’s really a good thing that Fox & Friends isn’t a “news” show because “news” implies some journalistic standards such as those presented in basic college journalism courses. But based on a new study, touted on Fox & Friends, college isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be so who cares about academic standards. Much of the discontent in the right wing world is directed towards our system of higher education which is seen by many conservatives as antithetical to their world view. Yesterday’s Fox & Friends reinforced the right wing meme that colleges are liberal bastions which corrupt our innocent youth who “don’t need no education” if that education comes from those pushing a librul agenda. But you’d think that when pushing an important right wing meme, Fox & Friends would actually be a little more detailed about where they got their important right wing talking points from because, as any college professor says, sourcing is important. But who cares about those biased, liberal professor types. College education turns our kids into liberals. That we know because Fox News tells us so – and they have a study which proves it.

Fox & Friends second stringer Clayton Moore’s introduction to the segment showed that Fox knows what kind of propaganda it pushes and what kind of people are receptive to it: “If you didn’t already believe it, there’s a study that confirms it now. A college degree is more likely to skew a person’s political belief to the liberal side of the spectrum. The study also says that college dumbs kids down when it comes to basic questions of civic literacy.” He introduced famous “dick” Tucker Carlson, who as both Fox commentator and occasional host, can always be counted on for setting the facts straight. In case you didn’t already believe it, the chyron read “Indoctrination University, Study Confirms That College Turns You Liberal.” In a moment of high irony, Carlson said that this study shows that “propaganda works.” (He should know, he works for Fox). He referenced young “impressionable students” who are “put in an environment where all authority figures have a certain political view, that they push on their students, those students absorb that point of view.” ("All" college professors are liberal?) He claimed that this study “shows pretty conclusively that college graduates are more liberal.” The chyron read “The “Liberal” Arts, College Turns Kids Liberal.” Was it coincidence that the areas of being liberal (according to the study, “polarizing” issues) that Carlson cited (abortion, gay marriage, capitalism) are all issues near and dear to the hearts and minds of the right wing. He went on to say that despite the liberalism, these college graduates have a knowledge deficit which is shown by those students who can’t answer basic civics questions. Without sourcing, he then presented some data which claimed that 18% of all college graduates can’t name a single freedom in the First Amendment. When Moore asked Carlson if it was better to not go to college, Carlson said that there were some benefits. Moore said that the Intercollegiate Studies Institute sampled 14,000 people and asked Carlson if there were any “flaws” in the study. When Moore asked if the study was “flawed,” Carlson said that he didn’t have the methodology or the data; but it “seems pretty straight forward” as shown by the percentage of students who couldn’t answer a question about the First Amendment. He said it’s “hard to see how the methodology could be flawed” because the views of college grads, on social issues, show that they’re liberals. (Obviously, Tucker doesn’t know that you can be fiscally conservative and socially liberal?) Moore noted some of the liberal positions (school prayer, gay marriage, abortion) and asked “how you fix it.” (This is problem, how?) Carlson called for “real diversity” as in diversity of opinion among college professors who should be allowed to have a “different perspective.” He then asserted that colleges spend much money trying to diversify the pool of students; but they do very little about ideological diversity.

Comment: I’m no statistician; but I do know that one study does not confirm anything – especially a study from a group that has this on their website: “Every study shows that the university is dominated by liberal professors. It is no wonder this country is currently on a slippery slope to socialism.” No bias there, nosirree. The Intercollegiate Study Institute is a “think tank” which is funded, in part, by the right wing Scaife’s and the Olin’s. Alfred E Regnery, who publishes a vast array of books by radical right wing types, is the vice-chairman. It’s alumni reads like a who’s who of the Reagan Administration who is a revered figure as shown by the many references to him on their home page. But they did a study of 2,500 people and Fox News takes it as an established fact. (The 14,000 figure, that Moore cited, was from a 2006 survey of college freshmen and seniors who were asked questions on basic civics. After its publication, “some experts questioned the study's methodology and focus on a small range of facts.”) And while the report was critical of college teaching, the study’s author acknowledged that this was a “systemic problem” from K through 12. And unlike Carlson, the study wasn’t a rant about “liberal” professors; but rather a belief that not knowing your civics makes you less likely to believe in the right wing version of the American Dream. At no point does the study say, as claimed by Moore, that colleges “dumb down” students. As we saw from the war in Iraq, conservatives do love to fit the facts around the policy. But if only college kids would learn their civics, we wouldn’t have a problem with that nasty, librul agenda. And Fox has a study which “pretty conclusively” proves it.