NEW YORK , -- Fox News Channel viewers and others who appeal to conservatives more often believe lies about COVID-19, vaccines than people who primarily read news elsewhere, a study found.
The Kaiser Family Foundation study, released this week, found clear ties between news outlets people trust and misinformation they believe. However, the Kaiser Family Foundation study did not address whether these attitudes were a result of what they saw there.
"It could be because people who self-select these organizations believe (the false information) going in," Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion research and survey research at Kaiser said.
Kaiser asked people whether they believed seven commonly circulated lies about the virus. These included that the government exaggerated the death toll from the coronavirus and that vaccines cause infertility.
Between 11% and 15% of people who trust NPR, CNN, or MSNBC are unsure if they believe four or more of the untrue statements or don't know what is true.
Kaiser stated that 36% of Fox News viewers believed in or were unsure about four false statements or more. For Newsmax viewers, it was 46% and 37% respectively.
Most people believe that the government exaggerates COVID deaths. Kaiser stated that 60% of Americans believe it or don't know if it is true.
Kaiser stated that there has been a sharp partisan divide in trust in news outlets for many years. Kaiser discovered, for instance, that 65% of Democrats believe what they see on CNN about COVID-19, while 17% of Republicans disagree. About half of Republicans believe the Fox news report about the coronavirus, while 18% of Democrats believe it.
It is clear almost every day how COVID-19 has become an issue of political warfare. Recent comments by Republicans about "government propaganda" were made after Big Bird, a "Sesame street" Muppet, tweeted that he had vaccinated.
Fox News spokeswoman, though she would not directly comment on Kaiser's Tuesday findings but pointed out several network personalities who support getting vaccinated. It was Neil Cavuto who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was vaccinated and had only mild symptoms. He begged viewers to take the shot. "Life is too short for an ass," said he.
However, vaccine and mandate skepticism have been a constant theme on many Fox shows.
Newsmax released a statement stating that it supports the COVID vaccine and encourages viewers to get it. The network also has only certified medical professionals on-air who support the vaccine.
Emerald Robinson, the company's White House correspondent was taken off-air last week to conduct an investigation. She tweeted: "Dear Christians, The vaccines contain bioluminescent markers called Luciferase, so that you can track." She was still grounded Tuesday.
Hamel stated Kaiser's findings regarding attitudes among people who haven't been vaccinated are a challenge for public health officials. They distrusted COVID-19 news. The 30% of people who cited Fox were the most trusting of any outlet on the topic.
She said, "The one thing that I didn't realize was how low the trust was between news sources and unvaccinated people."
The trust numbers among social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook were especially low. Hamel stated that this doesn't mean that social media hasn’t had an impact on spreading doubtful stories about vaccines.
Kaiser's study was done between Oct. 14-24 with a random telephone sampling of 1,519 American adults.