How Much News is in the Daily Show’s Fake News?

Filed Under Late Night, Satire

A little while back, a blogger for CBS News talked about “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” being no substitute for regular news. It’s been funny to watch the mainstream media clamor to attach meaning to both shows - despite any disavowals from Jon Stewart & Co. It’s a little natural that perhaps a little professional jealousy will rise up to try and tear down what they themselves have built up.

CBS’s blogger takes issue with “Daily” and “Colbert” as news sources because when viewers were tested on knowledge of news facts they knew less than most of other news sources, using the same Pew Research Center study that many use to prove the satire shows’ importance. One of the things that he neglect to mention is that the people who get their news from comedy show is taken in the most broad way possible. They’re counting SNL, Leno and Letterman in there. Though there’s definitely political jokes in there, there’s very little news content. So to dismiss the informative qualities of “The Daily Show” when it’s paired with many less-than-news sources isn’t very fair. I’m pretty sure that if you test Daily Show or Colbert viewers on their own, the results would be much higher on the scale.

Particularly because, as far as news content, The Daily Show was studied by Indiana University and found to be as substantive as regular network news. And that is why some people probably can and do use it as a sources. I’ve said this before, but for a joke to land, you can’t let the spin and the falsehood be the set-up. You have to use facts. Truth. So much of network news has been simply presentation without critical thinking, which allows the spin to drag their news content down.

The CBS post closes with by trying to parallel the Daily Show with dessert after a meal of regular news, but with the amount of spin and obfuscation that’s seeping into our news, what the Daily Show really is is the menu that tells you what the hell you just ate.

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Comments

Posted by GhaleonQ on 06/10  at  05:46 AM

You may have forgotten, but “the real news” is discovered by and reported the best by newspapers.  Comedy shows often misconstrue the facts for a joke, and shouldn’t even be compared to a Wall Street Journal, Telegraph, or Yomiuri Shimbun.

Todd Jackson
Posted by Todd Jackson on 06/10  at  06:19 AM

I haven’t forgotten at all. Real news is often reported best by newspapers - I’m a regular NY Times reader. But sadly, newspapers are becoming increasingly challenged and marginalized in this economy. Readership is down and what readership there is is increasingly older. Television news is where most people get their news now.

Comedy Shows do exaggerate for the joke, but the Daily Show often uses the facts themselves to build humor. Think of the clips they run where politicians directly contradicting themselves against statements they made in the past. It’s often powerfully funny and, secondarily, informative.

I would never suggest the Daily Show as a first source, but I do get why people turn to it. There’s a sense in a lot of TV news isn’t news - it’s commentary and opinion, allowing people with strong agenda to push the conversation in the extremes. There’s a lack of calling bullshit in a lot of TV news - its a task that the Daily Show fills very often.

BTW, I’m sure the Daily Show writers read many papers to build material for each show. It’s occasionally the weapon they use against the newstainment of TV.

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