Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fake News is Real(ly Useful)

This just in: Jon Stewart's 30 minutes of television are informational, useful and dare I say, valuable.

According to a new Indiana University study, Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is as substantial as regular news coverage.

The new study shows that lines continue to blur in a polarized political climate:

"It is clearly a humor show, first and foremost," Fox said of Stewart's program. "But there is some substance on there, and in some cases, like John Edwards announcing his candidacy, the news is made on the show. You have real newsmakers coming on, and yes, sometimes the banter and questions get a little silly, but there is also substantive dialogue going on … It's a legitimate source of news."

Well, a small sigh of relief for that hard-to-reach youth demographic. Aside from the satire, Stewart's show is valuable in a time of declining news consumption.

Yet we should take pause at these results. What do they mean, really? Is the Daily Show the future of news? Yellow broadcast journalism, perhaps?

No. These results are frightening in a whole other way.

With many pundits claiming that fake news isn't legitimate, it seems that many should turn their focus on themselves. If the Daily Show, a show Jon Stewart once said was prefaced with a show about "puppets making crank phone calls," has enough substance to compare to say, a FOX News broadcast, shouldn't we then wonder why our regular news coverage can't elevate its substance above that of parody?

Katie Couric, the ball's in your court. Otherwise you might be fighting the Colbert Report for ratings.

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