Fox News Is Hurting Republicans, Former Bush Official Says

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11:  Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel attends the Hollywood Reporter celebration of 'The 35 Mo
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel attends the Hollywood Reporter celebration of 'The 35 Most Powerful People in Media' at the Four Season Grill Room on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Fox News is hurting the Republican Party, according to a study conducted by a top official in the first Bush administration.

The study, authored by Bruce Bartlett, who worked in the Treasury Department under George H. W. Bush and was also a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, found that Fox viewers tended to be less informed about current affairs than people who watch mainstream news -- and even people who don't watch the news at all.

"Republican voters get so much of their news from Fox, which cheerleads whatever their candidates are doing or saying, that they suffer from wishful thinking and fail to see that they may not be doing as well as they imagine, or that their ideas are not connecting outside the narrow party base," Bartlett said.

Citing a host of other studies, Bartlett found that Fox News viewers tended to have misguided beliefs about the Iraq War, the Affordable Care Act and other major issues. He also noted that Fox's audience tended to hold a bias against Muslims.

"It appears that right-wing bias, including inaccurate reporting, became commonplace on Fox," Bartlett said. This is especially problematic, he said, because "many conservatives now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through Fox, and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth."

The Daily Show recently put together a compilation of some of the network's most egregious inaccuracies. Among them: NASA scientists fabricated data to prove climate change exists, Obama sent more forces to fight Ebola than ISIS, and the Affordable Care Act will eventually lead to single-payer health care.

Many within the Republican Party have expressed concern with Fox News in recent years.

In 2012, then-presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said that he found other networks to be less partial. “I think Fox has been for Romney all the way through," Gingrich said. "In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than Fox this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of Fox, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of Fox. That’s just a fact."

Then-Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said last year that some Fox shows are "totally not fair and totally not balanced." Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who often appears on the network, has said that its immigration coverage "makes it harder for me to get people on my side."