Jon Stewart’s Claim About Fox News Gets Fact-Checked


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, 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.

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I consider the 2010 election poll as at least partially biased, because some of the questions they selected themselves show a political bias.

which (president) implemented the automaker bailout (both Bush and Obama)

A college exam question of this sort would be considered unfair, because the wording of the question is improper with the correct answer. The wording tends to suggest that a single president implemented the bail-out.

whether Barack Obama was born in the United States (he was).

Not exactly. While most of the media and politicians claim to accept the “digital birth certificate copy” as “genuine”, detailed analysis of the computer generated “document” by experienced computer graphics professionals seriously support a position that the “long form” birth certificate is a fraud. Now, I don’t expect journalists or politicians to recognize a forged document document when they see one, but as an experienced computer graphics artist for over 15 years, I know that the examination and conclusions given by many of the artists (who claim it is a forgery,) are consistent and valid. This piece of computer artwork is IMO unquestionably a forgery and a very poor one at that. I have spent endless hours creating and performing detailed pixel-level touch-ups on photographs and original computer artwork. It would actually be quite easy (having the proper computer graphics skill,) to create very believable forgeries. (And I daresay much more convincing ones then this one the Obama administration released). The question of whether Obama was born in Hawaii is still unproven and only assumed.

But a few were in a bit grayer area, often asking respondents to gauge what experts have concluded about policy trends.

One was, “Is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus has created (a) saved or created several million jobs, (b) saved or created a few jobs, or (c) caused job losses.”

Define: “…most economists who have studied it”
That is yet another problematic question, in that it relies on a particular consensus opinion for the expected answer as opposed to solid proven fact. (Much like the Man-made Global Warming type of consensus.)

Another was, “Is it your impression that economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years, (a) more think it will not increase the deficit, (b) views are evenly divided, or (c) more think it will increase the deficit.”

Asking for a personal “impression” on the views; of unmentioned economists regarding the federal budget deficit, makes this entire question totally improper and thus bogus. It requires the questioned to answer without sufficient information. The possibility of political bias amongst the unnamed economists can not be determined, as such this question simply can not, and should not be answered.

The comedian looked really serious…and angry.

His fans seem to take his political “facts” seriously when he lampoons the news…..maybe someone should factcheck/poll Daily Show audiences on their knowledge and grasp of the facts.

Bravo, for the use of objective data. Now, try using it more often.

I wouldn’t consider a valid measure of anyone’s knowledge. They have a VERY bad habit of assuming certain things to be fact that aren’t. Their 2003 and 2010 polls are prime examples.
They claim that there was no relationship, working or otherwise between Al-Qaeda and Saddam. We have links to info proving otherwise on this very site.
Combine that with info showing them to be favorites of very far left donors, and it becomes crystal clear what their mission is.

I would agree with HR on this, as well as nearly every poll out there. Ditto is certainly correct in his view of them.

Any poll which suggests to measure the knowledge of groups of people, is subjective at best, mainly because the questions are typically not exacting in detail, which allows for a multitude of “correct” answers, or, which actually causes the correct answer to be considered wrong. It also depends upon the actual political leanings of the polling organization, or the pollster himself, as to their opinion of the “correct” answer, meaning, that a conservative may, in fact, give a correct, or semi-correct answer to a question, but based on the viewpoint(s) of the pollster, the answer doesn’t get scored that way, and the poll is compromised.

Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” segments tend to be better than the typical poll like that above, simply because the questions are quite simple, with a well-defined correct answer. Of course, he never asks the people which way they lean politically. If he did, I’m sure his unofficial “polling” would be quite revealing.

Jon Stewart turned this story into fodder for more jokes:
PolitiFact, the non-partisan correction organization, called Stewart’s statement that Fox News viewers were “consistently misinformed” false.

“It turns out that I was misinformed,” Stewart began, highlighting the comment that PolitiFact took objection to, “which is no surprise, since I watch a lot of Fox News.”

He apologized for his statement, but did not neglect to toss in a reminder that he is, of course, just a comedian with no political influence whatsoever: lying, he joked, would undermine “the credibility that I work so hard to pretend to care about.”

While the segment was meant to be about the fact that Stewart, a comedian with no political influence whatsoever (will you please leave him alone now?), was caught making a definitive statement that turned out the be a lie, most of the segment had nothing to do with his own words, but with Fox News.

Typical Jon S. that’s why I don’t bother with him.

@Nan G:

Typical? Hmm There are more lies in one day of fox news than 5 years of Stewart. You should BOTHER with him you are just scared that facts may cloud your world. I have never seen so much posting on one story that the right takes soooo much time to try to discredit…one guy even said Politifact is a LEFT leaning site..i almost gagged…it is the most biased right wing site that tries to disguise itself as a real site. amazing….