In 2010, Lifeway Research conducted a survey that showed FOX News as the most trusted cable news source for evangelicals and Protestant pastors.
According to the survey, 47 percent of pastors believe FOX News is the most accurate and fair when it comes to covering news. FOX News was followed by PBS who had 31 percent and CNN who had 28 percent.
For some professors, it is not surprising at all that FOX News is the No. 1 cable news source for Evangelical pastors.
“Evangelicals look at television and do not see themselves there,” Professor of Communication Studies Phil Reed said.
Reed explains that in his broadcast journalism class, he tries to teach his students that media is secular and liberal, which is why when it comes to FOX News, the Evangelicals actually have a voice.
Evangelical Christians in general tend to associate themselves with the Republican Party, which is why the high percentage of the approval for FOX News does not shock some professors.
“I do not think it is surprising at all,” Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism Brooke Van Dam said. “This is the extension of the voting bloc that emerged from the ‘80s because they are coming at it from a conservative viewpoint. The Evangelicals have done so in the last 20 years now going on 30 years.”
Van Dam also finds it interesting that many of the well-known hosts on FOX News are not particularly religious at all such as Bill O’ Reilly or Greta Van Susteren, who is a member of the Church of Scientology.
“I find it interesting how Evangelicals are willing to attach themselves to a political ideology and listen to people who are so at odds with their own faith,” Van Dam said.
Before the current election, FOX News had high hopes for Governor Mitt Romney to win the presidency. Since this was not the case, however, it might have hurt their credibility.
“I think it hurt their credibility a lot. They were relying on Republican pollsters that were clearly telling people what they wanted to hear,” Van Dam said. “However, on election night they very much stuck to reporting the news.”
For other professors, FOX News’ wrong prediction of the election results did not hurt them as a news source.
“All of the major polls called it wrong,” Reed said. “The news on FOX was not calling it for Romney, they were merely giving Romney his due.”
According to Reed, the commentators and the opinion programs were all pulling for Romney because they are conservative and they are Romney supporters.
“I do not feel that it undermined FOX News as a news source at all anymore than it undermines CBS, NBC and ABC when George W. Bush won and then won again,” Reed said. “In the recount in Florida, they all said he lost and sided with Al Gore. Yet we still have these other news sources around and everyone regards them as the authorities because they backed Obama,” Reed said.
For Reed, this wrong prediction did not hurt FOX News just as the recounts in Florida did not hurt the other news networks.
For many individuals, FOX News might be a biased news station, but it is safe to say most news networks have their biases.
“I think it is impossible to not have a perspective,” Van Dam said. “But if you are transparent about the perspective you are coming from, people will believe you.”
Even though FOX News was wrong with their prediction on the election results, the network is respected amongst the Evangelical and Protestant communities. FOX News might continue to be the No. 1 news source for evangelicals and Protestant communities alike.
“I think for a while they will be,” Van Dam said. “If [future generations] consume news more, Fox News’ popularity might die down a little bit. There is always going to be a market for a conservative view point just like there is a market for news from a liberal viewpoint.”