You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.
By far, I think the most interesting and useful thing I learned from this course was the issues surrounding political satire like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Before taking this class, I had never watched a show like these, or even really knew what they were all about. However, now I love watching the Colbert Report and will watch a segment of it any chance it is on TV. In addition, I rarely, if ever, watched the traditional news and knew very little about what was going on in the ‘real world’ (embarrassing to admit).
Since my increased viewing of the Colbert Report, I have also found myself catching glimpses of the nightly news to gain at least some insight into important citizen information so I can actually “get the jokes” that are on the show. I found it interesting that these different types of media forms are complimentary of each other, not competitive, because they provide a lot of the same basic info. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these types of late-night comedies are an alternative form of journalism because they do not have actual journalists going out into the field and reporting. Instead, they provide commentary (that can often times be insightful) about the news events.
I felt that this topic (among others, including social media) pertains to our lives because political satire and shows of this kind are geared toward young people and people of our age group. Because of this, we could closely relate to the issues that were discussed in class. It seems as if appealing to young voters has become a new political tactic. As shown in this clip:
In contrast, the most irrelevant and boring issue we discussed this semester was the Sunstein book. The statements made in this book seemed to be very redundant and talked about issues that sounded more like common sense, at least from my perspective. The main two points of his book 1) that citizens should be exposed to material they wouldn’t normally choose to be exposed to and 2) that people need to be exposed to a range of common experiences appeared to be statements that common people should already be aware of. Although Sunstein did do an excellent job of explaining new topics and information, like consumer and citizen sovereignty, he wasted a lot of space by elaborating continuously on the certain issues.
Overall I think that this class was very interesting. Before I had no real interest in following politics. After taking this class I have found myself watching the news more. I have become more politically aware of what is going on. I am glad that I took the class when I did. When we were learning about the how communication on twitter and Facebook effected politics, it was right during the Egyptian revolution. That was the perfect example of how these social media are growing throughout the world. Another topic that I enjoyed learning about was the political satire portion. I liked how we got to watch clips from The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Those are shows that I watched before taking the class so I was excited every time we got to watch clips from these shows. The clips always pertained to what we were learning about and they made the subjects more exciting. Another big topic we covered that I really found interesting was the 1960 presidential election. I did not know much about this prior to taking the class and I feel like I have learned a lot about American politics after learning about this one election. It changed the way that Presidential candidates approach their campaigns. The thing that I fond the least interesting to learn was the Republic 2.0 book. Its not that I did not enjoy learning about blogging and things of that matter. The book was just tough to read. It was very repetitive. I am glad that we did not spend a very long time discussing it. The general information taken from the book was not bad, just the read itself. I think in the future just having certain parts of the book assigned to read would be a better approach to the Sunstein book. Overall I enjoyed almost all the topics covered in this class. I also liked how we talked about current events in class. Overall I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot over the semester.
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!
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.
While The Daily Show and Colbert Report may not be considered political news in the traditional sense, both shows do indeed promote political action. It’s a subtle promotion, but it’s also brilliant. Since both shows cover current events within the political realm, the assumption both shows make is that their audiences are aware of these current events. If they weren’t, the jokes wouldn’t land the shows wouldn’t last. But since both Stewart and Colbert have become the representatives of how younger people gather their news, with high ratings and awards, it’s obvious that the people watching it get the jokes. And the only way for people to get the jokes (outside of the easy dick jokes both make) is to be cognizant of what’s happening in the news in the first place. Without context, the jokes wouldn’t make sense. So, in order for audiences to really enjoy The Daily Show or Colbert Report, it’s necessary to understand the goings on in terms of the news and politics for the jokes to actually punch. This is how both shows promote political action. They may not have an outright agenda, but they do encourage audiences to know what’s going on, if for nothing else, so they can laugh at the jokes.
In terms of bias, during the joint Stewart/Colbert coverage of the election results during Indecision 2008, both comedians let their guards down with the announcement of Obama’s victory in the election. This breaking of character, especially on Colbert’s part, shows the elation both had that Obama had won the presidency. Though this doesn’t necessitate Stewart or Colbert’s liberalness, it’s evident that the guy they wanted to win, who happens to be a liberal Democrat, won, and they were clearly happy about it. Like all other human beings, they have their bias. But because they’re comedians first and informers second, it’s more acceptable that their bias be shown on the air than, say, someone from CNN or the like.
Additionally, the Rally to Restore Sanity was organized in direct response to Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally. While it may be unfair to claim that it was a rally by liberals for liberals, the crowd was overwhelming liberal and the jokes told were aimed toward liberal ideologies. However, more interesting than the fact that this rally was in response to an overwhelmingly conservative moment was the general confusion over what Stewart’s rally was supposed to be doing. And as others have linked in their blogs, it wasn’t until Stewart explained that the rally was a wake up call to the media to calm down that the point was made.
Though the job of Stewart and Colbert is to satirize the media (a job it typically does well), they do have their own biases. For instance, Colbert supports an increase in immigrant rights in terms of work visas (which is a relatively liberal ideology) and testified as such in Congress, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Stewart, too, admits a liberal point of view in terms of the show’s jokes. While this doesn’t mean The Daily Show won’t criticize the Obama administration, it’s much harder to find clips of Stewart criticizing Obama than it is of him criticizing the Bush Administration. And while this may be a function of his audiences’ interests, that his critique and comedy about the Republican Party and more conservative policies resonates more than his comedy about the Democratic Party and liberal policies shows his appeal as a liberal comedian.
In short, both shows are less political news shows and more critiques of the news, which is an important function in terms of providing information to the public. Both shows do have their biases based on which jokes the audience likes to hear and how both men, when not in character, react to happenings in the public forum. Finally, they promote political action because they have to in order for people to watch and enjoy the show. It’s hard to get the jokes if one doesn’t know what the joke is referencing, so though without an outright agenda and with a large amount of subtlety, both shows promote political participation.