Every cable network is covering the coronavirus wall-to-wall. And has been doing so for weeks now.
But while the coverage is constant across cable TV news, the message about coronavirus people are getting from the networks isn’t the same. At all.
Take this question, asked in a recent Pew poll, as to whether the coronavirus originated in nature (it did) or whether it was built in a laboratory (it wasn’t).
While 66% of MSNBC viewers and 52% of CNN watchers accurately said the coronavirus came from nature, just 37% of Fox News viewers said the same.
Or this question about how long it will take for a coronavirus vaccine to be ready. Just 51% of Fox News viewers said it would take a year or more for the vaccine to be available while 78% of MSNBC watchers said it would more than a year for a vaccine. Almost 6 in 10 CNN viewers said the same.
(Worth noting: A coronavirus vaccine is, according to medical experts, at least, a year to 18 months away.)
The differences between cable network viewers’ knowledge of the virus extend to how each network’s stalwarts view the coronavirus coverage.
Eight in 10 Fox News viewers say the media exaggerated the threat from coronavirus as compared to 54% of CNN viewers and just 35% of MSNBC watchers.
Why those numbers matter is because we know – also from Pew data – that self-identified conservatives Republicans overwhelmingly turn to Fox News as their preferred source of information. (More than 3 in 4 conservative Republicans and those who lean Republican say that Fox is their main source of information.)
The Point: Fox News watchers, who are overwhelmingly Republicans, are reporting a very different – and less accurate – view of coronavirus than those who watch CNN and MSNBC.