Fox News Viewers against Immigrants?

Published: 18 June 2014

Country: US

FOX_NEWS_2Trusting Fox News has been proclaimed the number one predictor for someone to be opposed to the idea of immigrants becoming US citizens, according to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings.

The results showed that the 60% of Republicans who trust Fox News the most to provide an accurate information about the politics and current events, consider immigrants as a burden for America supporting that the latter take their jobs, housing and health care. On the contrary, the majority of the Republicans who have trust in other news sources (56%) say immigrants today strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents.

Marija Sajkas, the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) Head of Operations in the US, is not surprised by the fact that the typical viewers of Fox News are not well informed about immigration issues in the country. “A survey done by Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2012 finds that public radio listeners are the most accurately informed about domestic and foreign issues, followed by people who get their news from Sunday TV shows and the Daily Show by Jon Stewart, while Fox News viewers ranked the least”, says Marija Sajkas.

She adds Fox News audience is largely composed of white people (only about 2% of their viewership belongs to African-American community), and their average age is 68. “Although ranked as television with the most viewers in the US, according to the data from the beginning of 2014 released by Nielsen, Fox News’ viewership of the most popular programmes doesn’t go much over one million”.

Thanu Yakupitiyage from the organisation “New York Immigration Coalition” (NYIC), which promotes immigrants’ full civic participation, also commented about the research outcomes. “To gain a fair and balanced understanding of news and events, viewers and readers must turn to multiple sources of media in order to get a full rounded picture. Viewers who watch one source of media, for example, FOX News, will certainly skew their understanding of events based on what is being reported”.

Whether you follow Fox News or not had also great impact regarding the stance of the viewers towards the future of the immigrants residing illegally in the US. The majority who trust public television (71%), CNN (65%), and broadcast news (63%) support a path to citizenship. The ones who are used to watch Fox on the other hand are less likely (46%) to favour allowing immigrants living in the country illegally, to become citizens and nearly one-third (32%) prefer to identify and deport them.

Survey has also revealed the important role that media play regarding the way we conceive the reality around us. Maryann Sinclair Slutsky from Long Island Wins, a non-profit communications organization that focuses on immigration issues in Long Island, commented on the research. “The finding below is a good example and very consistent with other surveys on the issue of immigration – that Fox news is the most trusted news by Americans while Fox news viewers are the least informed: only 12% of Americans who trust Fox News believe correctly that deportations have increased while Americans who mainly trust other broadcast news believe anywhere from 24% – 35%. Fox news has the least journalistic integrity but is the most trusted source by Americans. What is wrong with this picture?” It is important to notice here that Long Island, where the organisation is based is one of most conservative places in New York State.

Apart from showing trust to Fox News, the other two factors that could predict opposition to immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship were identifying as Republican and being a born-again Christian. The one thing that the research didn’t elaborate on is whether respondents tend to follow the media that will enforce their own beliefs; the ones that will make conservatives more conservative and liberal more liberals or the vice versa.