Washington Post: Jon Stewart, Enemy Of Democracy?

With that headline, the Washington Post commences a serious mischaracterization of a study centered on Daily Show viewers. The study’s authors, Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan Morris of East Carolina University, sought to define “The Daily Show Effect” on its audience.

The WP says:
“Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart’s faux news program, “The Daily Show,” develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting.”

The researchers themselves found that:
Daily Show viewers, primarily young adults in their late teens and early 20s, tend to trust their own knowledge of politics. And that, …whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, we don’t know. But that, As “Daily Show” viewers grow more confident in political knowledge…they could become more active voters…”Participation breeds more participation and informed participation” he said. “So that by itself would be a net positive.”

So amongst the conclusions of the researchers was the possibility that the Daily Show may produce a greater likelihood of voting. The Post doesn’t cite that possibility anywhere in its article, while featuring the notion that the program could suppress voting.

I would submit that any program that leads viewers “to be cynical about individual candidates, the electoral process and the media…[and]…to trust their own knowledge of politics,” is performing an essential public service. It proves that the program is producing an enlightened skepticism that is firmly rooted in reality – contrary to the ramblings of the folks at the Washington Post.

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2 thoughts on “Washington Post: Jon Stewart, Enemy Of Democracy?

  1. The researchers themselves disavow a connection between what they found (increased cynicism) and voting. In fact, they’ve been interviewed saying that it could cause people to choose not to vote, or it could motivate people to get more involved and make them more likely to vote. Wonder how Morin missed that and left it out?

    Love how he followed it with an article that said Republicans are very very principled (albeit a tad tightwaddish, oh dear!) but Democrats are BIG BAD RACISTS.

    If watching Stewart makes people sick of politicians, maybe instead of shutting up critics so that Americans can vote in romanticized, blurry-edged, cockeyed optimism, we should try getting better politicians.

    Peace Out.

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