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New Study: Cable News Viewers Have More Hawkish Views on Israel’s War on Gaza War

Following the events of October 7th, and the subsequent brutal retaliation by the Israeli military, American public opinion has become increasingly polarised on the issue.

Not surprisingly, and like most issues now, public opinion on U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian issue remains sharply divided along partisan lines. The majority of Republicans are leaning toward Israel, while a declining majority of Democrats are increasingly trending towards neutrality on the issue.

According to an early survey in late October conducted by the University of Maryland, the majority of Republicans, 71.9%, say they want the US to lean toward Israel, compared with 47.3% in June, while a majority of Democrats, 57.4%, want the US to lean toward neither side, a drop from 73.4% in June 2023. A 53.6% majority of independents also wanted the US to lean toward neither side, a drop from 71.4% in June.

Back then, the partisan lines were already clear, but the numbers alone do not really explain the real mechanism by which those surveyed come to the conclusions they do.

A more recent survey on media consumption appears to shed a much-needed granular insight into how Americans are formulating their world views.

The answer boils down to one key factor: mainstream propaganda…

The Intercept reports…

Americans who get their news primarily from cable are the only people who believe that Israel is not committing a genocide in Gaza, according to a new survey that examined the relationship between attitudes toward the war and news consumption habits. 

The survey puts numbers on trends that have become increasingly apparent: Cable news viewers are more supportive of Israel’s war effort, less likely to think Israel is committing war crimes, and less interested in the war in general. People who get their news primarily from social media, YouTube, or podcasts, by contrast, generally side with the Palestinians, believe Israel is committing war crimes and genocide, and consider the issue of significant importance.

The poll of 1,001 American adults was conducted by J.L. Partners from April 16 through April 18. It was paid for by the YouTube-based news network Breaking Points (for which I co-host the show “Counter Points”).

(…) We often hear people say that “Twitter isn’t real life” or that “Nobody watches cable news,” but the survey asked where people get most of their news, asking them to pick just one, and cable and social media won out. Most Americans do in fact get their news either primarily from cable (42 percent) or social media like TikTok, Instagram, or another platform (18 percent). A third of people said they get their news from YouTube or podcasts, with 13 percent saying they got most of their news that way.

Asked generally where folks got their news on a day-to-day basis, with a “check all that apply” option, it’s even more clear how dominant cable (55 percent), social media (38 percent), and podcasts/YouTube (34) are compared to print, at 21 percent. (I read the survey as using “print” as a stand-in for any text-based media, whether digital like The Intercept or on actual printed paper.) Just 8 percent of people said they got most of their news from print journalism, which was less than the portion of people who said they don’t watch or read the news at all at 13 percent. (That number may be significantly higher in practice, as those who consume zero news could be difficult for pollsters to reach.)

These numbers don’t mean print is irrelevant. News is an ecosystem, with print reporters producing the journalism that is then grist for cable news as well as YouTube shows or podcasts. Print journalists also break much of the news that gets talked about on social media. But social media also gives users/viewers direct access to sources of information they never would have had before, with the journalists in Gaza broadcasting directly to Instagram and TikTok being the most visible recent examples.

What the survey doesn’t quite answer is which phenomenon comes first. Are social media users more likely to oppose the war because of the information they’re exposed to, or simply because they are more likely to be young? Are cable news viewers propagandized into their position by the talking heads they watch, or are they just old and conservative? (Social media use does go far beyond young people, of course. The survey found that 38 percent of people listed it as one of multiple sources of news.)

Asked if Israel is committing a genocide in Gaza, cable news viewers said no by a 34-32 margin. All other news consumers said Israel is committing genocide, including print (36-33), YouTube (41-31), and social media users, who agree with the statement by a 44 to 19 percent margin. People aged 18 to 29, meanwhile, have similar views (48-21 percent), while those over 65 say by a 47 to 21 percent plurality that Israel isn’t committing genocide…

Read more at The intercept






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