Is The Daily Show the best political reporting on television?

September 27, 2004

The Annenberg Public Policy Center finds that viewers of The Daily Show are knowledgeable about current political issues.:

Daily Show viewers have higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers - even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age, and gender are taken into consideration.

This study does not show that viewers are informed because they watch The Daily Show, but merely that TDS attracts viewers who are more informed than average. The study goes on to praise The Daily Show for using "irony to explore policy issues, news events, and even the media’s coverage of the campaign,” rather than going for quick jokes.

Comedy Central refutes O'Reilly's claim and finds that "viewers of Jon Stewart's show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch 'The O'Reilly Factor,' according to Nielsen Media Research."

Informed viewers are watching The Daily Show not only because it is funny, but offers some of the best political reporting on television. Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk looked at this year's political reporting to date and assembled a "Hall of Not Half Bad and Sometimes Actually Pretty Good." The Daily Show's Jon Stewart was the only television journalist among the top 10. It says something about the state of television news when the medium's top political reporter works for a fake news show.

The Washington Post hosted a chat with TDS Executive Producer Ben Karlin: "Many people in this country have strong bullshit detectors. For some reason, most major media outlets have turned theirs off out of fear of being labeled partisan."

Previously: Fake Journalists, Real Questions.

Posted by Andrew Raff at September 27, 2004 11:30 PM
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