So yes, I can confirm that most of the mid-west is tuned into Fox News all the time. They don't watch sports. All the TVs in all of the restaurants I've been to have been tuned to Fox News. (except for this nice greek restaurant I found this morning which was tuned to CNN.)
So I've gotten to hear a lot of Fox News programming, and I'm actually not that shocked or dismayed by what I hear. I've learned a lot about why the mid-west is confused.
It's not that Fox News is always blow-hard conservative. They aren't ... well, aren't always. But the truth is that their channel is full of nonsense that doesn't present anything coherent EXCEPT for the editorials.
It goes something like this:
1. Bring up a subject
2. Raise an interesting question
3. Let an editorial idiot piss his pants about the topic in detail for 4-5 minutes.
4. Call up an expert
5. Ask the expert irrelevant questions
6. Interrupt the expert as much as possible
7. Keep everything real short and snappy. Timeline, timeline!
8. Summarize what issue with something halfway between the random thoughts you had, and what you picked up from the expert AS IF the question had been answered by an expert.
9. Let an editorial idiot ramble for a few more minutes.
So even if we are willing to assume no deliberate attempt to subvert the audience (which I will assume until the end of this post and no farther) the problem is that the unknowing person on the receiving end of this broadcast only hears coherent statements from the editorial ranting person. They don't get anything coherent or understandable from any other form.
I really think this works. I mean hell, I bought it on two different topics until I got to where I had wireless Internet and could find out what the expert kept trying to say when they were interrupted.
And the really sad thing, is that it doesn't have to be deliberate. You could do this exact same formula with a liberal bent, just replace the editorialists. It's a News News News lots of News but No Information approach that is likely to work with anyone who doesn't have the experience and disbelief necessary to employ critical analysis to the information presented.