Coverage of COVID-19 has dominated the news and resulted in skyrocketing ratings for the nation’s cable news networks. And according to a survey conducted March 10-16, 2020, as a part of Pew Research Center’s Election News Pathways project, responses to that coverage and the pandemic itself vary notably among Americans who identify Fox News, MSNBC or CNN (the three major cable news networks featured in the analysis) as their main source of political news.
In particular, the responses to COVID-19 news from those whose main source for political news is MSNBC or Fox News are strikingly different. The views of those who identify CNN as their main news source most often fit somewhere between the two.
One such difference emerges around knowledge and understanding of the pandemic. The group who names MSNBC as their main news source is far more likely than the Fox News group to answer correctly that the coronavirus originated in nature rather than a laboratory and that it will take a year or more for a vaccine to become available. On both questions, the portion in the CNN group to answer correctly falls between the MSNBC and Fox News numbers. This analysis comes from a survey of 8,914 U.S. adults who are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel.