What Does It Say When A Comedy Show Does More Fact Checking Than News Programs?

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

Poynter has an interesting article, looking at The Daily Show as being a leader in media criticism, an area where it does an excellent job, even if that’s not its intention. But, what struck me most of all in the description of the team behind the show, was that it has a full-time researcher and fact-checker, who looks for multiple sources to verify the content that they’re using in the show. Now, in a typical news room, this shouldn’t be surprising. But, instead, we’ve actually seen the opposite. Fewer and fewer news operations have full-time fact checkers (or fact-checkers at all). Yet, here we’re talking about a comedy program, whose main job is to make people laugh, and it employs a fact-checker who verifies points with multiple sources. Doesn’t that seem backwards?

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Comments on “What Does It Say When A Comedy Show Does More Fact Checking Than News Programs?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Don’t they know we’re recording all of this?” – Jon Stewart

Remember the sound bite? That little piece of propaganda that could only fit inside of television. Of course, the internet goes in the opposite direction. A longer analysis is preferred. Which is why blogging and tweeting can co-exist.

Twenty years ago even if you could record a politician being dishonest it was difficult to show it to the rest of the population. The national news didn’t really care. They didn’t want to rock that boat and receive less access because they were being “over-critical”. Besides, politicians lie, everybody knows that?

And it’s getting harder for them to lie, thanks to the internet.

Maybe that’s what ACTA is really about? Sure, it “supposedly” helps the content industry but I could see it helping the politicians too.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

The Daily Show may be a comedy show, but I think Stewart is keenly aware of the role they play. I read a statistic some time ago that something like 70% of people between 18 and 28 get most of their news from the Daily Show (I’m probably a bit off on the percentage and the ages, but I don’t have a fact checker on staff). In the past few years I’ve noticed the DS taking on more weighty issues and actually spending money to send corespondents to political rallys and even Iraq (instead of their usual green screen schtick). They might put a humorous spin on the news, but they definitly have taken an active role in covering news the mainstream media won’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

TDS was really good when Bush and Clinton were in office. But during Obama’s campaign, Stewart started drinking the ObamaJuice and he [seriously] tows the liberal line, even on loser issues. Of course, TCR has only gotten better over time because he [sarcastically] tows the conservative line on loser issues even more than he did before.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

my favorite stewart vs. obama moment was when obama said he was insulted by the new yorker cartoon that depicted him and his wife as terrorists. stewart said it tied in to the previous flack over the prophet mohammed cartoon from the netherlands and the speculation that obama was a muslim extremist.

he (or his writers) summed it up perfectly by saying that making the statement undermined obama’s postition because only islamic radicals get upset over cartoons.

Derek Reed (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They may make jokes on both sides of the aisle (always have, and continue to do so), but Jon Stewart does have some clear biases on quite a few issues. I’m not criticizing the show, it’s an incredibly valuable resource and I’m incredibly happy that they do the work that they do, but that doesn’t change the fact that Stewart has some things he supports, and some he doesn’t. Everyone does.

Watch the full Lou Dobbs interview from this week, and pretend for a second that you don’t 100% agree with either of them, and see where they stumble upon themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s why nobody “recalls” anything, although that might be more a political thing than an interent thing.

Yeah, you’re probably right, the internet has no hope in hell of changing a politician’s ability to relate to the truth.

The internet must’ve had some positive effect? Against the political establishment? Right?

Chris in Utah (profile) says:

Another perpsective

I’d have to say that the current state of affairs is that people are sick of being preached to like they are somehow lesser than then the Primp and Polished newscaster.

As a people we want meat on our bone. So the meat comes in the form of comedy, from someone we view as “real”.

Such as dose of reality blog such as Mike’s hard lemonade. Hey, the analogy fits 🙂

kenfretz (profile) says:

News Sources

I am a sixty-one year old who has gotten a major part of his news from the Daily Show for three or four years. I don’t know where all you kids find out what is going on.

By the way, all this started when the real news sources decided to stop covering the news and parrot what the Cheney/Bush administration told them too do after 9/11. Stewart and his staff took over and filled the very large hole left by the print and television news department.

Ken Fretz

Brent Ashley (profile) says:

Jesters through the ages

Jon Stewart and his crew pull it off brilliantly. I’m surprised though how many people seem to think this is some novel approach.

There has been a centuries-long tradition in the role of the court jester to speak the truth where it might otherwise never be spoken, and to shine the light of reason and insight by way of parody and mockery.

For instance, Shakespeare’s King Lear had just such a fool, his wisest and most truthful advisor.

alternatives() says:

Humor is pain seperated by distance.

Toilet blowing water out due to cherry bomb – funny when it happens to others.
When you were sitting on the loo when it happens – not funny. Wait 20 years and it’ll be funny at the class reunion.

Because of the distance and the pain of the fact checking result – its funny.

#2 – calling something humor lets you ‘get away’ with things. Court Jester diss’n the king. Rush Limbaugh when caught out says ‘its humor people’.

#3 – the ‘news’ outlets have stopped being ‘newsy’. Michael Moore at the Commonwealth Club talking about his love story movie points out that Newspapers in Europe arn’t having the issues like the American News outlets are. If one believes markets abhor a vacuum, Comedy Central is filling it.

Dirk Belligerent (profile) says:

I wonder how many people fawning over Jon Stewart simultaneously wish for Glenn Beck to die in a fire? The Left has their knives out for Beck because he has been taking out Obama regime minions with stunning alacrity by doing something the Obama-worshiping press refuses to do…

Show the videotape.

A half-dozen ACORN offices advising undercover reporters how to set up brothels for 15-year-old illegal immigrants; Van Jones bragging how he is a Communist; Anita Dunn rhapsodizing about how Chairman Mao, killer of over 70 million people (take that Adolf!), is her role model; the NEA offering quid pro quos to artists who make propaganda for Dear Leader’s programs; the influence of SEIU cash on Obama and the graft he returns to them; and so on.

60 Minutes used to do the reporting that commentators like Beck are doing now. Why does Andrew Breirbart have to start a website – http://www.biggovernment.com – to host the work of a 25-year-old kid who blew the lid of the corrupt ACORN that until then routinely fed at the taxpayer money trough? A: The press is allied with Obama’s statist agenda and will not do anything to slow down the empty suit they provided the hagiography to get elected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It always amazes me how disgustingly polarized something like News can be. The fact that you honestly believe what you’re spewing here is a testament to how diluted the news industry has become.

Glenn Beck is not some brilliant arbiter of truth. He’s a theatrical act meant to pander to right-leaning viewers.

Just like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are theatrical acts pandering (for the most part) to the left.

The only difference between them is that Beck actually pretends to be a real reporter, while Stewart and Colbert acknowledge that they’re actors.

If the news industries actually bothered to get off their asses and started doing their job, then Stewart, Beck and the entire industry of fake reporters wouldn’t need to exist.

Of course, Stewart would still have a job as a comedian. Beck…not so much.

Call me Al says:

We get the Daily Show over in the UK a day or so after the US. I use it for my update on what it happening over the Pond as watching CNN or Fox makes me want to smash my head against a the wall.

Comedy of this type needs to be as accurate as possible because it is used to hold the actions of people up to ridicule. The audience need to be able to trust that what they are told and what they laugh at are actually true.

Jon Bane (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Belief – Holding something to be true with out evidence.
Knowledge – Holding something to be true with (or because of) evidence.

Watch the show, learn something, and you will see he mocks the Dems when they are dumb asses as well. It just turns out that the current neo-con circus is doing a lot better at making themselves a target.

Derek (profile) says:

All the news media does anymore is spin for their puppetmasters and regurgitate ass-covering press releases.

I don’t always agree with Stewart, but I get more real information from The Daily Show than from all three broadcast networks put together. Stewart’s not afraid to think for himself, and his program doesn’t swallow, smile and wipe off its chin for some corporate agenda.

Bob Weiss (profile) says:

Why the Daily Show is a great news show - not just a commedy show

The Daily Show competes head to head in my market (St Paul, MN)with the 10pm evening news bradcasts. I always switch to the Daily Show. There is simply nothing to miss on the local TV news, and John is always right on. As a political convervative, I find MR Stewart more “fair and balanced” than Fox News, or any of the other, more liberal, news channels.

Michael (profile) says:


In addition to the very valid and sadly accurate points made above I do have one point that is somewhat new.

There is no reason that the news can’t be funny or entertaining; even if you aren’t in a society requiring the guise of humor to hide the fact that you’re telling the truth it can still make the news more relevant and memorable by enriching it with the spice of humor.

The humor can also offer a better way of tying in extra points, such as making the butt of the joke the responsible target.

The sad part is that thanks to our two-party first past the post system it’s very difficult to do anything about it (like send congress a message by voting out -any- incumbent via voting against them in the primaries).

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