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'Daily Show' Viewers Better Informed Than O'Reilly Watchers

During his May 23 show, Bill O’Reilly claimed that many young Americans have “no idea what’s going on,” stating that they get their news from Jon Stewart. Problem is, studies show that Stewart’s viewers are better informed than most other media consumers — considerably better than viewers of “The O’Reilly Factor.”


Media Matters:

During the May 23 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly asserted that “[m]any Americans ages 18 to 24 have no idea what’s going on,” stating that they “get their news from [Comedy Central host] Jon Stewart and their point of view from bomb-throwing entertainers.” In fact, studies have shown that viewers of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with John Stewart are consistently better informed about current events than consumers of other media, and Daily Show viewers are considerably better educated than viewers of The O’Reilly Factor. Further, consumers of Fox News in general have been found to be significantly more misinformed about current events than consumers of other mainstream media.

In 2004, the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center released its National Annenberg Election Survey, which found Daily Show viewers to be better informed on campaign issues than consumers of other late-night television programs, newspapers, network news, or cable news. In a press release, Annenberg senior analyst Dannagal Goldthwaite Young said: “Daily Show viewers have higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers — even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age, and gender are taken into consideration.”

The survey asked respondents to answer a six-question quiz designed to measure “political knowledge.” Daily Show viewers ages 18 to 29 scored higher than those who consumed any amount of network news, any amount of newspapers, or one to three days of cable news; young Daily Show viewers scored the same as young viewers who watched four or more days of cable news. The survey did not say what percentage of Daily Show viewers regularly consumed news from other media outlets. Overall, Daily Show viewers scored the highest out of any group surveyed, with Daily Show viewers answering, on average, 60 percent of the questions correctly.

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