Sunday morning Jon Stewart appeared on Fox News with Chris Wallace and answered questions about his show and media bias. Wallace grilled him about his habit of making political points and then hiding behind his role as a comedian when challenged about them (Stewart’s clown nose on/clown nose off routine). For the most part Stewart kept his good humor, but there was one moment when he seemed to get not only serious, but angry:
Only it turns out Stewart was wrong. Politifact decided to fact check his statement and here is their conclusion:
we have three Pew studies that superficially rank Fox viewers low on the well-informed list, but in several of the surveys, Fox isn’t the lowest, and other general-interest media outlets — such as network news shows, network morning shows and even the other cable news networks — often score similarly low. Meanwhile, particular Fox shows — such as The O’Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity’s show — actually score consistently well, occasionally even outpacing Stewart’s own audience.
Meanwhile, the other set of knowledge surveys, from worldpublicopinion.org, offer mixed support for Stewart. The 2003 survey strikes us as pretty solid, but the 2010 survey has been critiqued for its methodology.
The way Stewart phrased the comment, it’s not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs to support the view that the data shows they are “consistently” misinformed — a term he used not once but three times. It’s simply not true that “every poll” shows that result. So we rate his claim False.
As you can see from the watermark on the video above, the left loved this moment. Media Matters posted the clip and the hapless Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly wrote an entire post around it citing all the same studies that Politifact cited, without delving into what they actually showed.