Study: 'Daily Show' as Substantive as Evening News Programs
Liberal comedian Jon Stewart regularly analyzes and criticizes the cable and broadcast news programs. When someone tries to do the same to his "Daily Show," however, the Stewart says he's just a comedian doing "fake news."
That used to be true back in the day when "Daily" was primarily comprised of spoof reports and fake interviews. But since Iraq war started, "Daily" has largely turned into a nightly bash-Republicans program, with the news of the day as the cudgel. In so doing, Stewart has evolved his show into a news program, despite his protestations to the contrary.
Here at NB, we've long thought that "Daily" should be treated as a news show, even if its host is too timorous to want that kind of scrutiny. Now, a new study has come out confirming our point of view:
First, the good news: If you look warily at the trend of younger viewers getting their political news from Jon Stewart, it might be comforting to know that a new study out of Indiana University finds "The Daily Show" is no less substantive than network television.
Now, the bad news: Neither is particularly substantive, says the study's principal author, IU telecommunications professor Julia R. Fox.
Fox and two of her graduate students based their findings on their analysis of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news and "The Daily Show" during the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the first Bush-Kerry debate.
This was back in the day of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings. Fox provided Blinq with a copy of the paper, which is to be published next summer in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.
"It's as good as the source Americans have relied on for decades," Fox said by phone of Comedy Central's show. "Neither one of them is particularly substantive. But any time you can get people engaged in the political process, that's a good thing. The fact is that a lot of young people have turned away from the network news to "The Daily Show" means at least they are still engaged and still paying attention to politics."
Fox and her co-authors clocked the amount of hype and substance on all four shows, defining the former as preoccupation with elections as horse races and coverage of such visuals as hand-shaking, baby-kissing and flag-waving. Substance was defined as attention to issues in party platforms and reporting candidates' political and governing records. They tracked both audio and video elements.