Sunday, September 26, 2004


"Daily Show" Viewers Among Most-Informed Voters

Not like it should be a surprise or anything:

No Joke: Daily Show Viewers Follow Presidential Race

PHILADELPHIA -- Viewers of late-night comedy programs, especially The Daily
Show with Jon Stewart on the cable channel Comedy Central, are more likely to
know the issue positions and backgrounds of presidential candidates than people
who do not watch late-night comedy, the University of Pennsylvania’s National
Annenberg Election Survey shows.


“In recent years, traditional journalists have been voicing increasing
concern that if young people are receiving political information from late-night
comedy shows like The Daily Show, they may not be adequately informed on the
issues of the day,” said Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, a senior analyst at the
Annenberg Public Policy Center who conducted the research. ”This data suggests
that these fears may be unsubstantiated. We find no differences in campaign
knowledge between young people who watch Leno and Letterman – programs with a lot of political humor in their opening monologues -- and those who do not watch
late night. But when looking at young people who watch The Daily Show, we find
they score higher on campaign knowledge than young people who do not watch the show, even when education, following politics, party identification, gender,
viewing network news, reading the newspaper, watching cable news and getting
campaign information on-line are taken into account.”


A content analysis of late-night comedy content conducted on Leno,
Letterman, and Stewart monologues and headlines from July 15 through Sept. 16
indicates that 33% of jokes made by Stewart during the show’s “headlines”
mentioned at least one policy issue, compared to 24% of Leno’s monologue jokes
and 21% of Letterman’s. Other topics covered in late-night monologues included
candidates' personalities, their chances of winning as well as events and
blunders that occurred on the campaign trail.Of the 83 political jokes made by
Stewart, only 9 specifically targeted Bush. That was 11% of his political jokes.
The same number targeted Kerry. “The Daily Show segments are less likely than a
Leno or Letterman joke to use a quick punch-line to make fun of a candidate,”
said Young. “Instead, Stewart’s lengthier segments employ irony to explore
policy issues, news events, and even the media’s coverage of the

So, for those of you that don't already realize that Jon Stewart and gang are
among the most-effective distributors of information on TV, there's your
proof. A little sarcasm, irony, and self-depreciating humor goes a long ways with us 20-somethings.

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