Undertaking the task of determining Fox News’ trustworthiness, PolitiFact found in 2017 that nearly 60 percent of the cable news network’s statements were either mostly or entirely false.
The result? Fox News viewers are more likely to believe outrageous conspiracy theories.
As Max Boot noted: “Only Fox News viewers are likely to believe that climate change is a hoax, that there is a ‘war on Christmas,’ that Obamacare would create ‘death panels,’ that there is an epidemic of crime committed by immigrants (they actually have a lower crime rate than native-born Americans), that President Barack Obama forged his birth certificate and wiretapped Trump with the aid of Britain’s signals intelligence agency, and that the accusations bedeviling Trump are a product of ‘Russophobia.’”
The likes of Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck spent years sowing distrust of the mainstream media and touting paranoid conspiracies as they sought to poison the minds of conservatives against the “liberal agenda.”
All of those rants have not been lost on President Donald Trump, who appears to increasingly rely on conservative news outlets for information, often parroting their talking points via Twitter or when speaking to the press.
And as Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic in 2017, the risks of such wanton disregard for the truth now hold dire consequences: “Insofar as [Hannity] spreads misinformation, he risks doing harm to the United States. And while that was arguably always true, it’s easier to see the import of a man’s words when a gullible president seems ready to credulously receive them.”