I watch The Daily Show. I've watched it for years. I watched it back when it first came to life and Craig Kilborn hosted (it was just fun entertainment then). The break in my watching it had to do with where I originally lived taking forever to actually get Comedy Central. So, by the time I was exposed to The Daily Show again Jon Stewart was host, and they were doing some great satire in relation to politics and society. Since that time I was hooked. If I'm not watching The Daily Show then I'm probably some place without a TV, in a place that doesn't have Comedy Central, or I'm sick and can't stay up that late (yay for DVRs now).
So, a few years ago when Jon Stewart was on The O'Reilly Factor Bill O'Reilly attempted to ridicule Stewart and The Daily Show by saying they were doing damage to their youthful audience because they (me at that time) were turning to them for their news and they weren't a real news show. This ticked off Comedy Central (interesting that they didn't seem to have a sense of humor) and there was some study done on exactly what watchers of The Daily Show knew.
Since then there have been a few studies done. You can read about the older ones and review Bill O'Reilly's comments at Media Matters
. It's really great reading if you haven't actually heard about this stuff before. Be sure to read the part about likely education between people who watch The Daily Show and people who watch The O'Reilly Factor (I used to watch the Factor before it seemed like O'Reilly was starting to talk down to his viewers...and I thought I understood things better than him...hehe). Oh, and it pits The Daily Show up against the news stations as a whole too.
Today, the Project for Excellence in Journalism
released information on a study they did on a year's worth of The Daily Show. The thing that caught my attention was a comment the director of the project made, which was simply that if you're not up on our news you don't get the jokes on The Daily Show. Well....DUH. I've had this conversation with a number of my friends who also watch The Daily Show. I'm not being pompous here, I'm simply stating that my brain works on enough of a basic level to know that if I didn't have prior knowledge (to some degree) of what they were talking about on The Daily Show the jokes would go right over my head.
Still, it's nice to see something like this getting out there because I'm hoping that people will understand that The Daily Show isn't a news source it's comedy show that has found there is an unending supply of jokes to be made if you spend a lot of your time looking at US politics and US society...but mostly the politics. You can read an article on the new study at CNN
or go to the project's info on the study here
If you're not watching The Daily Show you really need to start. They out perform most of the major news shows and channel in the stuff they dig out of news archives. Personally I imagine The Daily Show is closer to what media news journalism was back when it was honest.