You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.
The most interesting part of Comm 4473 was the study of late-night satire. I found the subject to be of particular interest and relevance to the class and our age group as a whole. Because of the tendency the young adults to rely on sources such as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewarts’ satirical late night shows to obtain political information, it was interesting to learn of the implications that come with depending on these sources for politics.
Not only do these political shows allow young adults to gain political news in a new and more appealing way, they also challenge the traditions of popular TV and news outlets. Additionally, we are challenged and encouraged to learn more about politics by taking in political information from these sources. One piece of media that stood out to me over the course of the semester was that of Jon Stewart featured on the CNN show, Crossfire, where he challenged the hosts and their presentation of politics and news.
Having viewed this in a previous political science class, it was interesting to see it tied back to communication and analyzed through its purposes of questioning popular political news and media.
Not the most boring but perhaps an unnecessary aspect of the course was the focus on the presidential election of 1960. While a very important part of the changes that have taken place in political communication history and one with a profound impact, it is a topic that was a little redundant to me. This particular election and its debates have been poured over in previous and current communication and political science courses that I have taken. While I understand its importance and relevance to the course, I feel that the reading of The Making of the President and subsequent presentations were too extensive coverage of the topic.
Overall, I feel that the past changes in political communication deserves recognition and complete understanding, but a less extensive overview of historical events could be minimized. Lastly, a focus on issues that are up-and-coming and those that are exploding onto the political communication scene are the most interesting and relevant to the course.
Before I begin, I think I would be amiss not to mention the recent developments in the Osama bin Laden news cycle. As we know, The Navy SEALs managed to kill him by all accounts, and I spent a good six hours watching the real news getting updates on the whole ordeal. I feel it necessary to share a small portion of my mindset on the issue, since it does play a pretty large role in the political communication realm. When talking to my hippy-dippy ex-girlfriend, she texted me, “I like how Osama is a reason to start a fucking worldwide frat party.” While I am glad that the world is rid of a terrorist threat, a man willing to kill civilians to advance his hateful intolerance, my response to her was thus: “I was glad that they managed to kill a guy who spread hate, but singing ‘Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)’ in the streets was worthy of a douchechill.”
Whether the death of Osama bin Laden was the outcome of a carefully planned mission that was carried out on May 1st, or whether bin Laden’s been dead for a few days and President Obama decided to make the announcement coinciding with the 8 year anniversary of George W. Bush’s “Mission accomplished” proclamation for the sake of political vote pandering will be interesting to discuss. But as of yesterday, I think it’s less appropriate to celebrate bin Laden’s death as it is to celebrate, soberly, the elimination of a hateful man who sought to spread hate. If nothing else, let’s celebrate how hard President Obama got laid when he found out he managed to eliminate the number one face of terror during his presidency, something that hadn’t been done over 10 years. If he isn’t getting some, none of us should be either.
Perhaps the most interesting discussion I took away from this class was that of how soft news, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert managed to affect the news media and the citizens in our fine democracy. That their satire, be it of the news media itself or of the blowhard pundits that pontificate like Pharisees from their pulpits, can have such a profound affect on the voting public, how news stations cover the news and what journalists cover is fascinating. From the cancellation of Crossfire to Stephen Colbert’s ability to be adopted by college liberals and staunch conservatives alike shows the power of their pulpit.
Further, I think it’s important that I mention that from this class, I was able to determine precisely what the difference between what Stewart/Colbert do in terms of their comedy (satire) and what other comedians, such at Leno and Letterman do (pseudosatire) is. More importantly, the importance of understanding the difference between these two are, i.e. satire calls for change through comedy whereas pseudosatire fans the flames of apathy by giving up on the the tenants of democracy became paramount to me. Since I tend to consume my politics with the sugar of comedy coating its bitter political pill, to know what each’s goal is allows me to understand the political atmosphere and what the goals of comedy and democracy are. Rather than giving up on politics, this class has actually instilled a hopefulness that democracy can work, primarily because most of the comedians I respect actually believe in the tenants of democracy (save for late Carlin, who was as cynical as the come toward the end).
The paper that I wrote, on how comedy affects democracy, did precisely the opposite of what I expected it to do. Rather than further removing me from a democracy that I already haven’t been participating in (I think I’m the only person in class who didn’t vote in ’08), it made me proud to be part of a democracy. While it may have its flaws, it isn’t entirely hopeless, and researching and writing this paper, coupled with the discussions we’ve had about political comedy and its affect on democracy re instilled a pride in this nation that I had lost in the past few years. So thanks for assigning it!
This class definitely beat the expectations I had when first signing up. I’ve been on the brink of being interested in politics and not for some time. I always felt that it was important to vote (probably the only 5 year old who couldn’t wait to vote), but after the 2008 presidential election and before it I really didn’t pay much attention to politics. This class has definitely opened my eyes to more political news and how to access it, and of course pushed me to my addiction of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. There were many aspects I liked about this class. I loved when learning about the presidential campaign and elections of JFK and Richard Nixon.
It was so interesting learning about Nixon’s fight to the presidency and made me want to find out why after all that work he would ruin it with the Watergate Scandal. I always think it’s important to know what past presidents have done to make sure that we can learn from their mistakes. I love how television was such a big factor and now we have so many different networking systems that can effect a presidential campaign. I also enjoyed the days where we would watch news clips from old reporters and from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I also loved how we watched that video on the Egyptian revolution. I just like how everything was tied into our everyday lives and what was actually going on currently.
What I didn’t enjoy was the Sunstein book. I found it really really boring and repetitive. I probably picked this book because we just recently reviewed it and it’s still fresh in my memory. I’m sure the information was very important, but I think it could of easily been a article instead of a book. After reading the first chapter I could have stopped reading and gotten the gist of it. All in all I really enjoyed this class and it definitely was one of my more interesting classes at Mizzou.
Ooohhhh The Colbert Report. Ahhhhh the The Daily Show. The Political Takeover has began. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and their executives of course) have changed the way individuals receive political news as well as the audiences involved in this process.
So, IS IT POLITICAL NEWS?
Of course it is. Good Political News really has two jobs. The first is to present the facts. Of course this takes you into a WHOLE different discussion about left wing vs. right wing, political biases from network to network, or maybe even selective exposure in political awareness. The fact remains, the job of good political news is to present facts. The second job is to present sources to help the audiences do further research and form their own opinions.
Looking past the satirical approach to the news both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do a fine job of these two jobs. And lets be honest – who doesn’t want entertaining news coverage (other than that straight faced guy three rows back with the glasses and the ascot on) – I’m just saying.
Is this presentation biased?
Of course it is. It is written and presented in a way that REGULAR people can understand and relate. (Probably wasn’t expecting that were you?) These satirical presentations are categorized as comedy to most. Comedy is an art form to where your average Joe (and Jane for the ladies) can comprehend. It is about time there is a presentation of news that doesn’t speak in the language of a specific people but in the language of people period.
These men want you to have just as much fun as they do. They want you to learn just as much as they do. If President Obama can joke with these men we can laugh – it is not un-American.
Have I made my love for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report obvious yet? I have a tendency to be extremely subtle, I know, so let me re-emphasize: I love the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. As far as Comedy Central goes, neither make me want to kill myself, and, as far as political news shows go, neither make me want to kill myself. Win/win either way, I’d say.
The beauty of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report reaches far beyond Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The Kings of Comedy and Professional TV personalities aside, both shows utilize the one tool that few can use properly to make a point–comedy. Neither TDS nor TCR claim to be news media or even function in the same role as the news itself. Stewart’s even purported this in his famous Crossfire interview when Tucker Carlson began attacking him for not asking enough hard-hitting questions on his show, saying
But therein lies the power of TDS and TCR. Without the same pressures or structures that guide CNN or MSNBC or Fox News, Stewart and Colbert are able to deliver real, political news in a way that’s relevant to the audience. The addition of humor and clips pieced together to show hypocrisy and inconsistencies within other news media networks hardly takes away from the political news content–if anything, it adds to it by adding relevance and perspective.
That isn’t to say that TDS and TCR don’t have their own leanings. Stewart and Colbert make fun of left and right politicians and journalists alike, but their leanings are obviously clear. They are equal opportunity offenders, but even a third grader can see that Stewart leans left and while Colbert certainly comes off as more centrist, he probably leans left as well.
Maybe that turns some viewers away from both shows. I, personally, think it makes it that much more interesting to watch and that much more genuine. If Stewart, who is clearly a liberal, hits hard at the Democrats and Obama–which he does, often–then it makes him seem more balanced, puts the hypocrisies in our system into perspective.
Either way, whether or not you believe TDS and TCR are left-leaning satires or that they convey real, political news, there can be no doubt that they inspire political participation, even in the loosest of senses. TDS and TCR are perfect for the news culture we live in today–they combine humor and news to draw in crowds, make politics relevant to the younger generation, encourage the youth to actually pay attention to the party system and politics and elections. If you’re in doubt about whether or not this is actual political participation, recall The Rally To Restore Sanity. Spearheaded by TDS and TCR, would you really doubt that the hundreds of thousands of participants who showed up that day in October felt like engaged, political participants?
If you do, I question you. As for me, I know that just watching TDS and TCR every night keeps me better informed and better connected with the world of politics than CNN and Wolf Blitzer’s Twitter addiction ever has. xoxo!
It’s not so much that it’s bad, as it’s hurting America…
But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don’t ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we’re in bad shape, fellows.
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.
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.