Fox News and the Dangers of Confirmation Bias

So why not just say, “I may have mischaracterized things a few times” and move on? To understand why that’s impossible, you have to understand O’Reilly’s persona and the function he serves for his viewers. The central theme of The O’Reilly Factor is that the true America, represented by the elderly whites who make up his audience (the median age of his viewers is 72) is in an unending war with the forces of liberalism, secularism, and any number of other isms. Bill O’Reilly is a four-star general in that war, and the only way to win is to fight.

The allegedly liberal media are one of the key enemies in that war. You don’t negotiate with your enemies, you fight them. And so when O’Reilly is being criticized by the media, to admit that they might have a point would be to betray everything he stands for and that he has told his viewers night after night for the better part of two decades.


Night after night, he yells about the “pinheads” and other liberals who are destroying this great country, saying the things his viewers wish they could say and sticking it to the people they hate.


Fox built its brand not just by convincing conservatives that it was a great place for them to get their news, but by telling them that the rest of the media can’t be trusted, so you almost have to get your news from Fox. In the last couple of years, however, what seemed like a great success of institution-building (including Fox and other media outlets) has begun to look less like a strength of the conservative movement and more like a liability. This was vividly illustrated in November 2012, when Republicans up to and including Mitt Romney convinced themselves that it was just impossible that the American electorate would grant Barack Obama a second term. Within that bubble, Obama was a failed president all right-thinking Americans rejected, and so he would of course lose badly on election day; they were genuinely shocked when the election turned out the way it did.


Folksonomies: confirmation bias cognitive bias demagoguery

/society/unrest and war (0.687222)
/hobbies and interests/games/role playing games (0.290928)
/law, govt and politics/politics/elections/presidential elections (0.287109)

allegedly liberal media (0.992607 (negative:-0.791714)), Confirmation Bias (0.884761 (negative:-0.657081)), viewers (0.880319 (negative:-0.212397)), viewers night (0.869215 (positive:0.341881)), median age (0.859045 (neutral:0.000000)), unending war (0.858163 (negative:-0.212840)), O’Reilly’s persona (0.857982 (neutral:0.000000)), Mitt Romney (0.845783 (neutral:0.000000)), elderly whites (0.838118 (neutral:0.000000)), central theme (0.837265 (positive:0.585300)), true America (0.836444 (positive:0.585300)), key enemies (0.836185 (negative:-0.791714)), convincing conservatives (0.835230 (positive:0.595756)), Barack Obama (0.834628 (neutral:0.000000)), American electorate (0.834088 (neutral:0.000000)), Fox News (0.831865 (negative:-0.657081)), right-thinking Americans (0.831068 (negative:-0.574928)), O’Reilly Factor (0.824727 (positive:0.585300)), great country (0.793766 (neutral:0.000000)), conservative movement (0.789919 (negative:-0.402247)), great place (0.786286 (positive:0.595756)), media outlets (0.783941 (neutral:0.000000)), great success (0.780185 (positive:0.413992)), things (0.623952 (negative:-0.406213)), way (0.617324 (negative:-0.413029)), election (0.617171 (negative:-0.364375)), isms (0.594964 (neutral:0.000000)), pinheads (0.592483 (neutral:0.000000)), secularism (0.587861 (negative:-0.241664)), Dangers (0.572021 (negative:-0.657081))

Bill O’Reilly:Person (0.766528 (positive:0.153335)), Fox News:TelevisionStation (0.600013 (negative:-0.657081)), Barack Obama:Person (0.565780 (negative:-0.470783)), Fox:Company (0.547332 (positive:0.595756)), Mitt Romney:Person (0.450337 (neutral:0.000000)), other media outlets:FieldTerminology (0.421343 (neutral:0.000000)), election day:FieldTerminology (0.375112 (negative:-0.366638)), America:Continent (0.347503 (positive:0.585300)), president:JobTitle (0.315235 (negative:-0.574928)), two decades:Quantity (0.315235 (neutral:0.000000))

John McCain (0.956723): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Democratic Party (0.944577): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
President of the United States (0.923693): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Mike Huckabee (0.887449): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Barack Obama (0.881960): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Mass media (0.868570): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Liberalism (0.857968): dbpedia | freebase
Harvard Law School (0.857956): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago

 The Bill O’Reilly scandal, made simple
Periodicals>Newspaper Article:  Waldman, Paul (February 24 2015), The Bill O’Reilly scandal, made simple, Washington Post, Retrieved on 2015-02-26
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: politics demagogery punditry


    26 FEB 2015

     Confirmation Bias

    Confirmation Bias > Example/Illustration > Fox News and the Dangers of Confirmation Bias
    Folksonomies: cognition bias example
    Folksonomies: cognition bias example