Pew Finds: Conservatives Get Their News from Fox; Liberals Get Theirs Everywhere

Eric Zuesse

Pew headlined on October 21st, “Political Polarization & Media Habits,” and reported “Striking Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives,” such as that Fox News Channel dominates as the news-source among conservatives, but that no news-source dominates among liberals.

47% of “Consistent Conservatives” cite FNC as their “main source for news about gov’t and politics,” whereas 15% of “Consistent Liberals” cite CNN as theirs — and no news-source is more-frequently cited by them than CNN. NPR ranks second among them, at 13%. MSNBC is third, at 12%. New York Times is fourth, at 10%. Local TV is fifth, at 5%.

By contrast: for “Consistent Conservatives,” Local radio is second, at 11%. Local TV is third, at 5%. Local newspaper is fourth, at 3%. Google news is fifth, at 3%.

Those are the main news-sources for more than 96% of Americans.

Here are the two main tables, showing which news sources each of the 2,901 respondents named:


The key question listed 36 news-sources, and doesn’t indicate influence but only that the respondent has “heard of” the named source (it’s like a politician’s name-recognition, versus his actual support):



Q.20 Please click on all of the sources that you have heard of, regardless of whether you use them or 

not. If you are unsure, please DO NOT click it. You can click anywhere in each of the boxes.

Mar 19-Apr 29 2014

Based on web respondents

[N=2,901] [%]

95 CNN 

94 ABC News 

94 NBC News 

93 CBS News 

93 Fox News Cable Channel 

90 USA Today 


88 PBS 

85 New York Times 

82 Wall Street Journal 

80 Yahoo News 

80 Washington Post 

76 BBC 

71 Google News 

66 Rush Limbaugh Show 

66 Huffington Post 

65 The New Yorker 

64 Daily Show

62 Colbert Report

60 Bloomberg

53 NPR

49 Glenn Beck Program

42 Al Jazeera America

36 The Guardian

34 The Economist

34 Drudge Report

32 Politico

31 BuzzFeed

22 Mother Jones

21 Slate

18 The Blaze

15 Breitbart

12 Daily Kos

9 ThinkProgress


In addition, there were included a few news-sources that shouldn’t have been. For example, the Ed Show, on MSNBC, was listed, whereas it’s only one show of many on that channel and not even the most-watched. (Among the ones more-watched there are Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell.) But no show on the channel should have been listed, because the channel itself, MSNBC, was one of the listed options. Similarly, the Hannity Show on Fox was listed, though FNC itself was also listed, and though the O’Reilly show on that channel has an even larger audience. Moreover, Mother Jones was listed, but The Nation was not, National Review was not, Harper’s was not, etc.

The list that I have included here from Pew’s does, however, include the Colbert Report, and Daily Show, because the Comedy Channel wasn’t listed; and it includes Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, because they are independently syndicated.

The Pew study just wasn’t well-thought-out. Nonetheless, it’s not a complete waste.

Here is their other key table, indicating actual influence: the respondent’s “main source” of political news:



Mar 19-Apr 29


Based on 

web respondents

[N=2,901] [%]

16 CNN

14 Fox

10 Local TV


4 Local radio

4 Yahoo

4 Google


4 Local newspaper



3 New York Times



2 Facebook

2 Huffington Post

2 Local digital


1 Blog

1 Drudge

1 Univision/Telemundo/MundoFox


1 Blaze

1 Reddit


1 Rush Limbaugh

1 USA Today

1 Wall Street Journal

1 Other radio

11 Other

2 Refused


This indicates that even the TV networks and major newspapers have little political influence; only CNN, Fox, Local TV, NPR, and Local radio, do. Any political news that isn’t presented on one of those five is inconsequential, reaching too small an audience — unless another news-medium (such as The New York Times) picks the news-report up and it becomes spread so as to reach one or more of these five news-media.


Finally, the most-trusted news-sources also differed between liberals and conservatives, except the Wall Street Journal, which was trusted by all ideological groups (but un-influential on political matters because it’s mainly a business paper).

Liberals trusted everything except conservative media: BuzzFeed, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Drudge, Breitbart, FNC, and The Blaze.

Conservatives trusted The Wall Street Journal and those other conservative sources, except BuzzFeed, which was the opposite of The Wall Street Journal: it was distrusted  by all ideological groups.


In any case: It seems that these are the only 5 news-sources that have any real political impact:

16 CNN

14 Fox

10 Local TV


4 Local radio

Everything else is just “buzz.”




Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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