Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"The Daily Show" = Enemy of Democracy?

A recent study shows that college-age viewers of "The Daily Show" tend to be more cynical about politicians and the Media than non-viewers. Keep in mind, that's all their data shows.

Why, then, does the mainstream conservative Media conclude from this study that this effect is likely to lead to citizens deciding not to vote? Sure, the study's authors posited that as a possible outcome, but they also said the opposite -- increased voter participation, is just as likely. In other words, they have no idea what this study means. Yet the Media has been spinning it entirely in the negative, an action that pretty much validates our allegedly Jon Stewart-inspired cynicism.

Some alternative news sources have reported both possibilities. Oddly enough, one of those sources was Fox News. Of particular interest is one of their last lines, where they -- again, without even a trace of irony -- point out that The Daily Show is a "fake" news program.


marc said...

here's my favorite quote from the study, "How does cynicism affect 'Daily Show' viewers' political behaviors? Morris and Baumgartner aren't sure."

And yet Fox feels just fine equating cynicism with voting patterns. As a social scientist, i think the question "did you vote in the last election" would help a bit.

Thanks for the great clip, by the way. I'd say "keep em coming" but I wish there wouldn't be so many reasons to do so.

Bogus Brook Resident said...

While I'm inclined to believe that cynicism would affect voters negatively (turn them off, make them less willing to participate in the process), it is true that negative feelings can have the effect of "galvanizing": A call to arms, perhaps. As a case in point, I wrote to one the Senators in this state to ask If there was any way the USFWS (US. Fish and Wildlife Service) may grant an exemption to an easement, to allow the building of an Electricity-generating Wind turbine tower. I mentioned Clean energy, less dependence of foreign oil, with some minor disruptions of the easement, which as I determine, actually has little wildlife value in my area. (Nothing endangered in the area, not a wetland, no rare animals, no rare vegetation, or at least nothing that I've seen!) While I got back my answer yesterday (It took about a month), The Senator in question gave me some information on energy policy, beliefs, but did not answer my question. This means that I am forced to live with a "non-answer", or go elsewhere for an answer. I choose to contact my congressman. (FYI: the Senator is Republican. The Congressman is Democrat. The answer I get could very well affect my vote this year.)
So, yes: Cynicism can lead to dropping out of the system. But it can also lead to action. It simply depends on the people in question!

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