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New poll reveals the sheer extent to which Fox News viewers remain loyal to Trump


Analysis by Oliver Darcy, CNN

(CNN) — The Fox News audience remains firmly in Donald Trump’s corner.

The notion that viewers of the right-wing channel support the disgraced former president is not very surprising, but the sheer extent to which the network’s viewership continues to stand strongly behind the twice-impeached, twice-indicted former president might jolt you.

Polling released by The New York Times and Siena College on Monday found that only 5% of respondents who get their news from Fox News believe that Trump has “committed serious federal crimes,” with an overwhelming 91% saying he has not done so. Meanwhile, 83% of Fox News-watching respondents believe that after the 2020 election, Trump “was just exercising his right to contest the” results. And, perhaps most importantly, 85% of Republican-leaning poll participants who primarily watch Fox News say the GOP needs to “stand behind” Trump.

By comparison, the poll found that Republicans who get their news from mainstream sources were much more likely to believe Trump committed serious crimes (38%), less likely to buy the idea he “was just exercising his right to contest” the election (58%), and fewer than half (49%) said the party must stand behind the former president.

The remarkable data underscores the grip that Trump continues to exert over the influential right-wing network’s audience. Even as he faces mounting legal problems, including potential charges stemming from his post-2020 election actions, Trump still commands the loyalty of the Fox News audience.

The numbers spell out in clear terms the consequence of Rupert Murdoch’s decision to embrace Trump in 2016 and his lucrative right-wing network’s continued and fevered support of the former president, despite his brazen attempts to wreak unprecedented havoc on the nation’s democracy. The network’s audience, now programmed by years of near-continuous defense of Trump — no matter how grave the action — is now effectively unable to accept any assertion that runs counter to its continuously reinforced beliefs.

And in the wake of Tucker Carlson’s sensational firing, it helps shed light on why Murdoch’s new prime time bloc is made up entirely of Trump sycophants. Murdoch can read the room, and as he learned in the wake of the 2020 election when the network’s devoted audience turned the channel in protest, he knows that programming critical of Trump will not bode well for the company’s bottom line.

Of course, it is possible that the Fox News audience would not be so supportive of Trump if it were not showered with endlessly positive coverage and distraction. But the staggering volume of support for the former president signals that turning the ship around at this point in time might very well be an impossible task.

The WaPo’s Greg Sargent put it well Monday when he wrote that “we will never know whether the GOP primary electorate would have been this in thrall to the doctrine of Trump’s absolute innocence” if notable figures in the Republican Party had condemned him.

“But,” Sargent wrote, “the role of Fox News and right-wing media in this disaster for democracy seems painfully clear.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN-Opinion

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