For a long time, understanding where Republicans primarily got their news was pretty straightforward, too. Unlike Democrats, Republicans, by and large, turn to just one source for all their news: Fox News. But with the advent of news networks even further to the right than Fox News — One America News Network and Newsmax — that’s changing.
OANN and Newsmax still make up just a small sliver of Americans’ overall media diet, and there’s, of course, a lot of overlap in viewership between those two networks and Fox News. But there are some signs that OANN and Newsmax are replacing Fox News as the primary news sources for at least some Republicans. I’m the research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, and in a March survey we conducted with Interfaith Youth Core on COVID-19 and conspiracy beliefs, we found that Fox News had fallen in popularity among Republicans, with just 27 percent saying it was their go-to news source versus 40 percent last September. What’s more, 7 percent of Republicans listed a far-right news network they preferred instead. That means they took the time to type in an “other” response in our text-box field, as it was not provided as a choice. Only a handful did this in September 2020.
To be sure, this shift is small — Fox News is still king among Republicans. But the growing popularity of OANN and Newsmax is important: According to our research, Republicans’ stances on certain issues might be better predicted by their television news habits than by whether they identify as conservative, moderate or liberal.
We found in our survey, for instance, that Republicans who got their news from OANN or Newsmax were generally more extreme in their beliefs around QAnon and in their refusal to get vaccinated than those who got their news from Fox News. Meanwhile, Fox News Republicans were often more in line with Republicans who got their news from other mainstream outlets.