Home > Uncategorized > Blog 8: Tired of the satire?

Blog 8: Tired of the satire?

We’ve discussed many times so far in this class where people get their political information from, and the same sources are always  inevitably mentioned: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC…and The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Especially among us college-aged kids, these satire news shows are becoming increasingly popular to the point where they are almost seen as a staple of our media culture. But these shows, while incredibly entertaining, are not legitimate sources of news.

Are these guys the most trusted men in America? Pretty much...

They are made up of teams of comedy writers who poke fun at political events and people–they do no reporting of their own and (because of this) they don’t seek insights into political stories. While people can get a grip on news headlines by watching these shows, they can’t get a deeper understanding of their causes and meanings. Because the news is packaged as entertainment, it’s extremely easy for viewers to think that they’re getting a comprehensive look at the stories, while simultaneously missing the entire point of the coverage.

In addition, these shows present news through a cloudy lens. I wouldn’t call it bias, because they don’t seem to advocate opinions one way or another: in the eyes of comedy, everyone and everything is fair game. I do think that they have an effect on people though, in that they type of political involvement they facilitate is very confrontational and skeptical. What I mean by this is that viewers don’t take their time read into the stories in depth and figure out where they stand and how the stories fit into their beliefs, but rather they listen to Stewart and Colbert poke fun at everything and they agree with the satire. They begin to mock the absurdity that’s inherent in the political system and accept that politics are a laughing matter. So instead of encouraging political involvement, I think these shows promote passive interaction.

Admittedly, I love both of these shows, but I also read other political sources to get my “real” news. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are amazingly entertaining shows and I think they have their place in the political spectrum, but viewers have to be responsible enough to simply enjoy the entertainment, while at the same time being active political participants through other means.

  1. April 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Excellent post. Good argument.

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