Researchers have long held that media partisanship affects viewers’ opinions, but the study suggests that the relationship is not entirely straightforward. Of about 2,100 Americans the researchers surveyed, Republicans reported opinions on climate change that varied with the cable news channels they watched, but Democrats did not.
The more Fox broadcasts a Republican took in, the more sharply that viewer disagreed that global warming is occurring. (Fox airs far more material about global warming than its competitors—it accounted for nearly 70 percent of the climate change airtime the researchers studied.) Republicans who watched CNN and MSNBC generally accepted that global warming is occurring and represents a threat.
Democrats’ belief that global warming is occurring didn’t change much whether they watched Fox or not, an indication that Democrats are more solidified in their position on climate change than Republicans. Would a change of channels by Republicans or a change at Fox help bridge the partisan divide? The authors don’t say.