Cable news coverage of COVID-19 has Americans split | The Numbers Racket

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, on Fox News (screen capture)

Depending on your source of cable news, the COVID-19 pandemic could look drastically different, a new study by the Pew Research Center finds. 

The study found that responses from viewers from the three major cable news networks (Fox News, CNN and MSNBC) had drastically different understandings of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Origins

Respondents who named MSNBC as their main source of news were far more likely to correctly answer that the coronavirus originated in nature. 

66 … percentage of adults who answered that the virus came about naturally and whose main source of cable news was MSNBC.

52 … percentage of adults who correctly answered that the virus came about naturally and whose main source of cable news was CNN. 

37 … percentage of adults who correctly answered that the virus came about naturally and whose main source of cable news was Fox News. 

Virus knowledge

When respondents were asked about their knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 pandemic, MSNBC viewers were able to give an answer that matched what public health experts had said. 

78 … the percentage of MSNBC viewers who said it would take a year or more to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. 

57 … the percentage of CNN viewers who said it would take a year or more to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. 

51 … the percentage of Fox News viewers who said it would take a year or more to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. 

COVID-19 coverage

Correctly answering questions about COVID-19 isn’t the only variance among cable news viewers. According to Pew’s research, viewers varied on their evaluation of media coverage of the pandemic by their news source, as well. 

92 … the percentage of adults who called MSNBC their main source of news were far more likely to say that the media covered the outbreak “somewhat or very well.”

Only 58 percent of adults who called Fox News their main source of news could say the same. 

CNN viewers fell in the middle with 82 percent of viewers saying the media was doing “somewhat or very well at covering the outbreak”

Viewers of MSNBC were the least likely to say that the media exaggerated the risk of the pandemic (35%).Meanwhile, a whopping 79 percent of Fox News viewers say the media exaggerate the risk of the pandemic.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.