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‘Daily Show’ Viewers Know More

Posted on May 2, 2007
Jon Stewart

According to the latest Pew Research survey, the most knowledgeable Americans are regular viewers of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” and avid newspaper readers. At the other end of the spectrum are viewers of Fox News and morning shows.

Jon Stewart frequently protests that his goal is to be funny rather than purely informative, yet people who watch his show, according to Pew, are more knowledgeable than viewers of the Lehrer “NewsHour” on PBS.

(h/t: Crooks and Liars)

Editor and Publisher:

Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot—with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.

Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers.

Told that Shia was one group of Muslims struggling in Iraq, only 32% of the total sample could name “Sunni” as the other key group.

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By Paul, April 6, 2008 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the people who write for these left wing sites are anti-american pigs not worthy of living in the USA. Your all a bunch of wimps who are afraid to defend your country so you become a left winger. why don’t all of you simply move to Afganistan and see how long you’d last spouting your rubbish. Or simply move out of the US so the real patriots can repair the country you’ve spent the past 30 years trying to destroy.

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By JR, May 10, 2007 at 3:10 am Link to this comment

Sorry for chiming in so late, but I stumbled across this item during a web search. I’ll assume that the study was properly done (for now). But before you all congratulate yourselves on how “informed” Daily Show viewers are, and how “dumb” Fox viewers are, you need to actually read the whole article. There’s just a little more there…
Look at the very last line:

“Democrats and Republicans were about equally represented in the most knowledgeable group but there were more Democrats in the least aware group.”

John Rohan

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By Dennis, May 4, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Having given up on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, I only watch STewart and Colbert. Who would think that exposing hypocracy and irony could be so truly informative. I assume they will know how to continue being on the air.

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By Sharon Ash, May 3, 2007 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How about the “Fox Moment” on American Idol this past Tuesday night?  They presented a taped message from W and Laura in which they thanked Americans for being so generous in supporting American Idol and their campaign to help fight poverty.  This from a president who has had 6 million more Americans fall into poverty during his administration.  This from a president who has seen the ranks of the homeless, many of who are veterans, increase during his administration.  This from a president who could watch from a helicopter as the poor in New Orleans clung to roof tops because they had no way to leave the city and escape Katrina, and watched with such calloused disregard.  But to hear W and Laura on the American Idol tape, they actually give a damn about the poor.  Sorry W, actions speak much louder than words, unless of course, you are speaking to those who still believe the meaningless bullshit which falls from your lips!

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By Frostedflakes, May 3, 2007 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

But this is a surprise to whom? Even more unfortunate is the fact that those who gather their news and opinions from Limbaugh, Beck, and O’Reilly are middle-aged and older caucasion Americans. This in itself creates a diaspora because the majority of Americans are caucasion. And whenever you have such a huge segment of a populace listening to idiotic, manipulative, self-serving ideologues for information they deem correct, you end up with an America like the one we have now.

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By dale Headley, May 3, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Don’t look for this morsel of information from a respected research organization to ever be reported on Fox News.  Jon Stewart refers to his own show as “fake news”; but that honor really belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s right wing propaganda factory.  What I find most encouraging about this news is that the demographic profile of the viewers of Stewat & Colbert are largely the future leaders of this country.

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By Ken, May 3, 2007 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
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I’m so sick of folks on the right claiming that acknowledging the need for some level of political and historical knowledge to engage in serious debate is tantamount to some type of “elitism”. That word, to me, seems like a cop-out from people who are too ignorant or too lazy to do a little research, read from multiple perspectives, and make decisions based on a combination of that research and their own worldview.

And that’s all that is required - nobody is suggesting that people need to be university-educated to be worthy of public dialogue, but people who can’t name Cheney or Libby might as well stick to the Simple Life and the E! network (or, of course, FOX).

Simply put, you MUST educate yourself on a subject before you can form or expound an opinion about it. As Socrates showed us so many times, we can’t argue about the nature of something when we have no idea what that thing is. Right-wingers, you’re on notice - stop using the “elitist” cop-out when you don’t have the poltical/historical knowledge of your adversaries - it only makes you look all the more base and foolish. The same, of course, applies across the political spectrum, but it seems as though “elitist” is definately a favorite word of the Limbaugh/O’Reilly crowd more than anyone else.

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By THOMAS BILLIS, May 3, 2007 at 9:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I knew something like that was probably true when I saw an ad for fingerpainting on the O’Reilly show{Bill likes to work in red].The how to cut your meat segment on the self help part of the morning show was probably also a clue.You cannot say that fox does not play to its audience.

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By dym, May 3, 2007 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is not the first study that showed the difference between the audiance for The Daily Show and Fox News shows, a few years ago, another study determined that the audience for TDS was more educated than that of the average Fox News show, especially Bill O’Reilly.

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By anonymous, May 3, 2007 at 8:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Truth is all over the place.  Not knowing isn’t an excuse anymore.  After finding out what the facts are, (like reading truthdig and other sources that haven’t lied) it’s bitchin’ to have Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert keep track of the bullshit I don’t have time for (like Fox “news”).

I’d never go to war without ‘em!

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By tmulvey, May 3, 2007 at 7:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A lot of people who regularly watch Fox News,as well as Rush Limbaugh, do so out of convenience and it fits into their daily routine. The right wing media and talk shows don’t require people to think or question what their being told. It’s in effect a subtle type of brainwashing (I know people like this).They accept it almost without thinking, as a habit. Ignorance is bliss! People who are more critical of what they’re watching or listening to are more knowledgable, and generally more liberal and open minded.

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By Christopher Robin, May 3, 2007 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Everyone that views some channel other than FOX is more informed, QVC, TV Land, Nickelodeon, MTV, Cartoon Network…etc.

Is this suppose to be surpising news?

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, May 3, 2007 at 5:33 am Link to this comment

Smart people can see the flaws in this junk science.  As for smart, what do you suppose to be the average educational level of policy makers in this country?  In liberal administrations?  People need to get off their high horses.  This country’s in a mess and it’s not only the neocons’ fault.  Seems to me that part of our problem in the world is our arrogance.  If you want to make a positive change, how about forming a new party.  Call it the “Knowitall Party.”  Then you’ll get the next war rationale right because the liberal papers will tell the truth.

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By boethius, May 3, 2007 at 4:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Knowing what’s going on the world is something of a prerequisite for enjoying and/or ‘getting’ the humor and wise-cracking wisdom of “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report”. I think this is an important component to their survey scores. When Stewart’s show first aired, they advertised, “When news breaks, we fix it!”.  Notice, f-I-x, no ‘O’ (for ostrich).  Ignorance carries with it an element of choice, call it the “bliss factor”, as in “ignorance is bliss”. It shouldn’t be confused with stupidity, as one can be corrected, the other, lasts forever. I live in the boondocks where the chosen, collective level of sustainable ignorance is terrifying.  The only comfort…its not contageous!

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By John Weinell, May 3, 2007 at 1:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is so sad. Americans are truly uninformed. Democracy cannot survive if people neglect their responsibility to vigilantly participate in the process. That obligation is impossible to satisfy if people collectively take no interest in government, politics, or social issues. We need more resources dedicated to education and more objective sources of information. Half of Americans don’t believe in evolution. Over ninety percent of Americans believe in a supernatural god. Ignorance has disastrous consequences. George Bush has been elected twice. He was reelected after he started an unnecessary war based completely on lies. How can people know Dick Cheney is lying when he claims a link between Iraq and Al Qaida or Saddam and 9/11 if three out of ten Americans don’t even know he is the Vice President? It is perhaps effete elitism and politically incorrect, but perhaps citizens should be required to take and pass a simple exam on current events and the United States Constitution before they are allowed to run for political office or vote in elections.

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By GW=MCHammered, May 3, 2007 at 12:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amen brother John and fellow Colbert. Now let’s put this country back on the straight-n-narrow… the American Way! The rest of the world will follow.

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By Larry, May 3, 2007 at 12:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anyone who regards Fox News as a dependable source for information is seriously deranged.  FN is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee.  How sad that the best political commentary is being done by COMEDIANS.

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By Marshall, May 2, 2007 at 11:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How about quoting some of the other details of the report?  You know, the ones that conflict with your “liberals are smarter than conservatives” thesis?  To wit:

“Men scored higher than women, and older Americans did better than younger, on average. Democrats and Republicans were about equally represented in the most knowledgeable group but there were more Democrats in the least aware group. “

So Dems top the “least aware” list, as do younger Americans (the decided bias of the Daily Show).  And of course we’ll ignore the obvious statistical logic that, by definition, more politically aware people will tend to tune in to a show with a decidedly political theme.  This report is like saying “the most knowledgeable people about duck hunting are watchers of the weekly duck hunting show”.  Duhhh!!!!

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By JTnTX, May 2, 2007 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And they just now figured this out?

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By tyler, May 2, 2007 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Funny how bill o’reilly, glen beck, and others commonly refer to those they feel are less-knowledgable on current affairs as ‘those who get their news from The Daily Show’. 

Also interesting how Jon Stewart says all they’re trying to do is be funny, yet his viewers are found to be more knowledgable than the viewers of any other news program.  What does that say about those national news programs that are trying to do a serious job? (except for the Lehrer news hour, I watch them too coz they’re on public access)

Mainstream media has no balls.

No conscience either.

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