Researchers said Tuesday that watching Fox News caused brain damage in rats. They said they’re not sure what that means, but the results are conclusive.

After watching “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity” for six months the rats were never the same.

“They got more hostile and I would venture to say more irrational,” said University of Wisconsin researcher, Ralph Phillips, who led the study that was published in the November issue of the science journal Mind Bender.

“And, for them, there seems to be no going back.”

Researchers said they think the rats picked up the anger that emanates from the shows on a sub-human level. “Or, it could just be rats don’t like the way Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity look,” said Phillips. “That’s not inconceivable.”

Fox News quickly discredited the study.

“All our viewers are human beings” said a spokesman. “And the ones that aren’t are people’s pets — not rats. And, by the way, what kind of person would force a rat to watch TV? Do you guys ever check your sources?”

Researchers said the rats were happy before they started watching Fox.  After their exposure to the network “it’s almost impossible to make them happy now, even weeks after not watching,” said Phillips.

“Their resentment appears permanent.”

The same rats were subjected to other cable networks – CNN, HGTV, The Weather Channel – but their behavior was mostly unchanged. “We did detect a little boredom with the house hunting shows,” said Phillips.

The researchers said rats also watched the first three GOP Debates, but the research is too incomplete to draw conclusions.

“Mostly the rats seemed unresponsive, bored by the format,” said Phillips. “Although there were glimmers of cognition. They seem to like Donald Trump, and Dr. Ben Carson makes them nervous.”

He said the rats were also thrown off by all the questions in the last debate which seemed to throw off the candidates, too.

“It was funny because I was watching them and when Ted Cruz said ‘cage match’ they all kind of jumped,” said Phillips.

Image: a composite photo created for from a promotional image from the Pixar/Walt Disney movie “Ratatouille”; a  stock photo by © olly18 licensed by the dew at and a screen grab from Fox news.
Jeffry Scott

Jeffry Scott

Jeffry Scott is a former staff reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where, over the course of 24 years, he covered two of the biggest trials in the city's history -- the racketeering trial of former mayor Bill Campbell, and the trial of courthouse shooter, Brian Nichols -- and wrote features on travel, food, politics, movies, TV and advertising, and covered breaking news on the metro desk. He left the paper two years ago and is living, quite happily, in St. Petersburg, Fla., as a freelance writer.