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Variety Intelligence Platform commissioned a survey that examines how recent revelations concerning Fox News‘ claims around the 2020 presidential election have impacted the beliefs of the cable network’s audience.
But not all Fox News viewers are equal. In this special supplement exclusive to VIP+ subscribers, VIP+ has segmented the audience by those aware and unaware of the lawsuit and found that 60% of Fox News viewers had heard of the Dominion lawsuit — more than the average American but less than viewers of CNN and MSNBC.
That’s not entirely surprising considering Fox News’ rivals have had ample coverage of the lawsuit and the private communications released, while Fox News and other conservative media outlets have barely mentioned it.
But an even bigger majority of Fox News viewers surveyed know about the Rupert Murdoch deposition and his testimony on the claims of voter fraud receiving more airtime than they should, as well as the text messages from primetime hosts including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, which indicated they did not agree with the narrative they pushed on TV.
Overall, 57% of Fox News viewers aware of the lawsuit believe the 2020 election was stolen due to voter fraud, slightly ahead of the 54% of unaware viewers who said so.
Yet once the evidence of the privately expressed messages of the primetime hosts and Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch are factored in, viewers knowing about the lawsuit are only slightly less likely (49%) to still believe the election was stolen than those who haven’t been following the story (51%).
Both groups did see a decline in sentiment (57% to 49% among those aware of the lawsuit, 54% to 51% among those unaware) toward the idea of a stolen election after being prompted in the survey about the Murdoch testimony and private beliefs of on-air talent, suggesting these levels may have been even lower had the network not pushed this narrative as strongly during its primetime opinion shows.
The fact that Carlson, Hannity and Ingraham privately expressed doubts about the veracity of election fraud sees one in seven Fox News viewers having a less favorable opinion about them, regardless of awareness of the lawsuit.
This has translated to some viewers watching Fox News less (1 in 10 for both groups), but others have said they've watched more Fox News content since the Murdoch deposition. This is likely why net viewership for Fox News hasn’t been impacted, with one group compensating for the loss of the other.
A spokesperson for Fox News confirmed to VIP+ that viewership levels and advertising have not been affected.
Methodology note: This Maru Public Opinion survey conducted on behalf of Variety Intelligence Platform was undertaken by the sample and data collection experts at Maru/Blue. 1,524 randomly selected American adults who are Maru Springboard America online panelists were surveyed from March 10th to March 12th, 2023. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 3.0%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by age, gender, race and region to match the population according to Census data which ensures the sample is representative of the entire adult population. Discrepancies in or between totals when compared to the data tables are due to rounding.