Misleading AP Headline: Comedy Daily Show 'a Lot Like' O'Reilly

The Associated Press today wins first place for the most misleading headline in the MSM by saying that a study shows that Jon Stewart's Comedy Central "The Daily Show" show is somehow "a lot like" Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor." The Thursday May 8 report is flippantly headlined, "Study of 'Daily Show': It's a lot like O'Reilly," but the following report does not exactly confirm the headline. It appears that the AP's distorted headline was meant to equate "The O'Reilly Factor" to comedy in order to impugn the serious character of the hit Fox show and make of it but an exercise in comedy.

The AP piece is reporting on the results of a survey of a year's worth of Stewart's comedy talk show to see what sort of information Stewart's show imparts to the many young people who are thought to turn to Stewart for most of their news coverage.

The final determination is that if young people are truly understanding the jokes that Stewart tells they must be getting more news elsewhere or the topical nature of the jokes would not be understood by viewers.

A journalism think tank studying "The Daily Show" doesn't believe many people get their news from Jon Stewart -- because otherwise they wouldn't get the jokes.

"They're not making jokes that you could get if you live in the country but don't read the news ... . You can't get the jokes if you're not watching the news. The jokes are designed to make you think more about the news."

But, the study's authors are not saying that Stewart's little show is "like" Bill O'Reilly's show or even "like" Chris Matthews' "Hardball" political talk show except in a tangential way.

So, how did the AP get that they are all "like" each other? By taking a comment out of context, that's how.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism also said it was surprised at how much the Comedy Central late-night program resembles "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hardball" and other cable news shows in content.

Having similar subject matter, does not make the shows "like" each other. The Old TV show "Hogan's Heroes" was set in WWII, but that does not make the show "like" the documentary show "Victory at Sea"! But, if you look at the quote that the AP uses to equate O'Reilly and Stewart, it isn't saying they are "like" each other. It was merely saying that they have similar subject matter. It made no comparison on how that subject matter was teated between the two. So, the Project for Excellence in Journalism folks are not exactly equating them.

But, let's not let such subtleties get in the way of a good, sensational headline, eh AP?

So, let's do some our own AP styled exercises to see what things are "like" other things.

  • "The Simpsons" cartoon is "like" The Charlie Rose show. They both contain "serious political commentary."
  • Playboy magazine is "like" the National Organization for Women. They both have chicks in them.
  • Bananas are "like" yellow rainslickers, because they are both yellow and both cover stuff.
  • The AP is "like" the Onion... well, for obvious reasons.

Go on, folks. Have some fun and use the AP method of making things "like" each other.

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, courtesy of the Far and Wide APNewsblog)