Seeing and Believing Pro-Trump Fake News: The Interacting Roles of Online News Sources, Partisanship, and Education

Patrick C. Meirick, Amanda E. Franklyn


This study examined secondary survey data (N = 3,015) that asked respondents about real and pro-Trump fake news headlines in late 2016 as well as their reliance on online news sources. Reliance on Facebook for news was a vector for exposure to pro-Trump fake news but not for believing it. Reliance on Fox News online and on nonlegacy news sites was positively associated both with exposure to and perceived accuracy of pro-Trump fake news. The Fox News relationship with perceived accuracy was moderated by party and education such that Fox News reliance was a stronger predictor for Democrats and the more highly educated. Reliance on CNN online and elite newspaper sites was negatively related with the perceived accuracy of pro-Trump fake news. Implications for motivated reasoning theory and future directions are discussed.



fake news, misinformation, Facebook, Fox News, motivated reasoning, selective exposure, misperceptions, online news

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