Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Daily Show Under the Microscope

We've been so distracted by Foley-gate and North Korean nukes that we haven't had time to mention last week's release of a University of Indiana study that concludes the satirical "Daily Show" on cable's Comedy Channel "is no less substantive than network television" news.

"It's as good as the source Americans have relied on for decades," according to the study's principal author, the unfortunately-named Julia R. Fox. explains:
"While the Daily Show broke up the actual news with comedy, the mainstream news broke up the actual news with stories including polls, political ads, and other filler."
Earlier this year, another study conducted by political science professors at East Carolina University found that those "who watched 'The Daily Show' were more likely to respond that they were cynical about politics and the media, and that they felt confident about their knowledge of current events."

Not to be cynical, but this news really isn't news. Yet another study two years ago found that viewers of The Daily Show on average are better educated, smarter, and richer than those who watch Bill O'Reilley on the Fox News channel.

Lately, Stewart's guests have included such luminaries as former president Bill Clinton, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, and James Baker III, erstwhile counselor to the Bush family and former Secretary of State. The interviews are often more newsworthy, educational, and entertaining than anything cable news or the networks nightly 30-minute news-and-commercials produce.

Monday night's installment was no exception. It even was newsworthy in its own light. Baker was the interview guest. Late in the ten-minute interview, Stewart says to Baker that he knows Baker won't publicly compare the performance of presidents he's worked for, but then puts him in "the seat of heat" with this:
"Boat goes down. One preserver, one. [Bush] Forty-one or Forty-three? W-H or just W?"
Baker answers: "their chief of staff." See for yourself:

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