Pollsters asked New Jersey residents questions about the uprisings in the Arab world and found that watchers of Fox News were the most consistently uninformed. By the researchers’ measures, Fox viewers were 18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watched no news at all.

“Some media sources have a positive effect on political knowledge,” researchers from Farleigh Dickinson University wrote, with an irony that attaches to the sort of straightforward writing that routinely appears in scientific studies. Readers of The New York Times and USA Today were more likely to know that Egyptians ousted their rulers earlier this year. Perhaps somewhat worryingly, viewers of Sunday morning news programs were the best informed of the news consumers surveyed.

“Sunday morning news shows tend to spend a lot more time on a single issue than other news broadcasts, and they are less likely to degenerate into people shouting at each other,” a political science professor from the polling university explained.

As far as understanding the Occupy Wall Street protests taking place across the state border goes, only 47 percent of New Jerseyans were able to correctly identify the protesters as predominantly Democratic, the study said. Viewers of “The Daily Show” were more likely to correctly guess the political leanings of the Occupiers.

“The amount of time spent on an issue, and the depth to which it’s discussed, makes a difference,” said one of the researchers.

–Alexander Reed Kelly

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig