No Citizen Left Behind

May 24, 2012

Imagine a public school in which kids who leave at the end of the school year actually knew less than kids who never went to school at all!   Think about it.   A school that DESTROYS what you knew when you first walked in the door!

You walk in thinking 2 + 2 = 4…but you walk out convinced that 2 + 2 = 5.

And what should the fate of that school be? Because of No Child Left Behind, schools must show continual improvement each year in their students’ scores based on objective standards of measurement.   I wonder what some media pundits would say about such a failing school.

I wonder what Fox News would say about such a school.

What if Fox News were that school?

new study shows that, on average, viewers of Fox News know less than people who don’t watch or listen to the news.

Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey just released results of a nationwide study that shows people who watch only Fox News performed “significantly worse” in answering questions about American domestic policy than people who listened to NPR or watched the Sunday morning news talk shows or The Daily Show, a comedy news show hosted by Jon Stewart.  According to the university study, people who didn’t watch or listen to any news could correctly answer 1.22 out of five questions about domestic policy. Here is an excerpt from the study:

The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.

To be fair, viewers of both Fox News and MSNBC performed below par on questions of international policy.  However, Fox News viewers have been under performing for years when asked questions about current affairs. In the 2004 documentary Outfoxed, director Robert Greenwald showed that Fox News viewers were more likely to have believed incorrectly that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 compared to NPR listeners.  The documentary also included respected journalists who contributed their opinion about Fox News, including former television news anchor Walter Cronkite:

I can’t help wondering:  What would happen if Fox News, which uses the public airwaves, were held to the same standard of accountability as the public schools under No Child Left Behind?

What if we had a program called No Citizen Left Behind?



  1. Fox responds. Not to study itself, of course, but by belittling FDU.


  2. I am so much happier when I don’t watch Fox news …

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