Why Fox News Is Winning
There are plenty of reasons that explain Fox News’ ratings dominance over the past decade and a half, but a new poll from Quinnipiac University sheds light on at least one major factor: trust. When voters were asked “Whose news coverage do you trust the most?” Fox News beat out all other television news organizations – on network and cable. Here’s a look at the results (the numbers on the X axis are percentages; "don't know" responses are not shown):
As impressive of an accomplishment as this is for Fox, what’s most striking about this chart is the utter collapse of public trust in the networks. Only one-in-10 Americans now trust the news coverage of any of the “Big Three”—and if you add them all together they still don’t reach 30 percent of the total audience. It’s hard to overstate what a radical shift that represents in the television news landscape. Fox has been a catalyst that’s helped drive that shift, but also the beneficiary of a technology-driven media fragmentation.
You can see another aspect of Fox’s success if you break the numbers* down by party identification.
As you might expect, Fox is seen as “most trusted” by a sizeable majority of Republicans – and by almost no Democrats. But Fox is also viewed as “most trusted” by one-in-four Independents – the highest among any network.
Conversely, look at the party ID of MSNBC. Not only do they rate worst of all networks among Republicans (2 percent), but they’re also are last among Independents (6 percrent). Compounding the problem, even Democrats don’t view MSNBC as the most trustworthy source of news on television. That honor goes to CNN.
How many times have we heard someone say that Fox News and MSNBC are simply mirror images of each other? The numbers from the Quinnipiac poll show that comparison is wrong. One of the reasons Fox News keeps winning is that it has managed to build a solid reputation for its news coverage, one that extends beyond right-leaning viewers. And one of the reasons MSNBC keeps losing is that its programming – even during the daytime – has become so opinion driven that not even its fellow ideological travelers view it as a trustworthy source of news any more.
* Percentages for the broadcast networks are not shown.