Academics Honor Colbert As Teaching an 'Extended Civics Lesson' About Campaign Finance With His Super PAC

It’s the media equivalent to declaring a Big Gulp with Pepsi-Cola is nutritious. TV Newser notes that professors at the  University of Pennsylvania issued a study proclaiming that watching “The Colbert Report” served as “an extended civics lesson” compared to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, broadcast evening news, talk radio, and newspapers.

“It’s the first study actually showing that Colbert is doing a better job than other news sources at teaching people about campaign financing,” said Bruce W. Hardy, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a senior researcher at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

They found other activities also increased knowledge about super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, but to a lesser degree, including reading a daily newspaper, listening to talk radio, and watching Fox News.

“Colbert did better than any other news source at teaching,” Hardy said. “There were two reasons. First was the narrative structure. He walked us through creating a super PAC and every episode was a continuation of that story. And second was the use of humor and satire.” Colbert's activism in creating a PAC was apparently the breakthrough in gaining public attention.

As you might expect, the humor was rib-tickling mostly to liberals. “Clearly 501(c)(4)s have created an unprecedented, unaccountable, untraceable cash tsunami that will infect every corner of the next election. And I feel like an idiot for not having one.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis