New poll: Fox’s audience is accepting its impeachment spin

White House Fox

Citation Ceci Freed / Media Matters

Fox News’ propagandistic coverage of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal is winning over its audience, a new poll shows. Fox viewers have become the president’s firewall, opposing his impeachment by a 71% to 17% margin while non-Fox viewers support it, 51% to 31%.

Last week, following the initiation of an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s abuse of power in pressuring a foreign government to investigate his political opponent, I pointed out that Fox had been created for a moment like this -- to prevent a Republican president from following President Richard Nixon’s path to removal from office. That theory was subsequently confirmed on the network’s own airwaves when contributor Geraldo Rivera told Fox host Sean Hannity on Tuesday, “You are the difference between Donald J. Trump and Richard Nixon.”

A new USA Today/Ipsos poll released Wednesday shows the impact Fox may be having. As part of that survey, Ipsos asked respondents to identify their main source of news, and it provided separate results for respondents who rely on Fox and those who rely on other news sources. 

The poll shows a yawning divide between Fox viewers and non-Fox viewers regarding whether the House should vote to impeach Trump:

It also shows sizable splits on views of Trump’s behavior and the investigation into his conduct. Fox viewers are significantly more likely to say that the whistleblower who reported Trump’s actions is a “traitor,” that the impeachment inquiry is a “witch hunt,” and that Trump didn’t abuse his power:

Some of this can likely be attributed to sorting: Conservatives inclined to believe Trump’s spin are more likely to watch the network that functions as part of his propaganda apparatus. But it also shows the value of having such an apparatus: Fox has constructed an alternate-reality take on the news, and its viewers have accepted it. The network is doing the work it was created to do.