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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Is Jon Stewart Bad for America?

I received an email saying if I wanted to keep younger readers, I should post Jon Stewart videos. But I would never pander like that:

Jon Stewart 'Hurts the Country,' Science Finds, by Andrew Ferguson, Bloomberg: ...[A] pair of political scientists from East Carolina University released the results last week of their 18- month study of the influence that Jon Stewart, the TV comedian, has on U.S. democracy. The report's conclusions about the effect of Stewart and his Comedy Central ''Daily Show'': not good. ...

Baumgartner and Morris cite data from the Pew Research Center that show almost half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 watch the ''Daily Show'' at least occasionally. This is also the age group that is most averse to consuming ''hard news'' from newspapers, magazines or TV. Only one in four of Stewart's regular viewers report following hard news closely, while, in 2004, more than half said they got some information about the campaign from Stewart. ... Now Baumgartner and Morris come to confirm what should be obvious... This isn't good news at all.

''Jon Stewart,'' they write, ''may have a unique effect on young viewers.'' With a barrage of jokes that require almost no contextual knowledge to understand, he flatters his viewers' sense of superiority even as he makes them more cynical -- and cynical not just about individual politicians but about the processes and possibilities of self-government.

Newspaper readers, who are much better informed, also show a slight increase in cynicism, the researchers found, but they ''do not display cynicism toward the system in the same manner as watchers of the 'Daily Show.'''

Meanwhile, despite their lack of knowledge, ''Daily Show'' viewers ''reported increased confidence in their ability to understand the complicated world of politics.'' Stewart is raising their self-esteem at the same time he makes them dumber.

Now, this is a familiar phenomenon in the contemporary U.S. -- rising ignorance accompanied by rising self-regard. We can't blame Stewart for it all by himself... But the study does raise the question: Who's hurting the country now? ...

Just because the truth hurts is no reason to stop telling it. Here's a recent example of Stewart in action:

[Video -WMP Video -QT]

TDS: The Miami Seven: Jon Stewart takes a look at the case known to many as "The Miami Seven." He examines the careful and decisive evidence told to us by Alberto Gonzales:

Gonzales: These individuals wish to wage a quote: "full ground war against the United States."

Stewart: Seven guys? I’m not a general. I am not anyway affiliated with the military academy, but I believe if you were going to wage a full ground war against the United States, you need to field at least as many people as say a softball team.

Please Alberto, don’t take any questions-you were doing just fine up until then. That was followed up by some careful analysis of the men involved in the plot.

A: One of the individuals was familiar with the Sears Tower- had worked in Chicago and had been there-so was familiar with the tower, but in terms of the plans it was more aspirational rather than operational.

Stewart: No weapons, no actual contact with al-Qaeda, but one of them had been to Chicago…

Cynical in the sense of "skeptical of the motives of others?" Let's hope so.

    Posted by on Tuesday, June 27, 2006 at 01:09 AM in Politics, Terrorism, Video | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (15)


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