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?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Steve, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:06pm

    Mainstream news has been serving their corporate masters for decades now. Fact checking is usually not in the best interest of their bosses.

     

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  2.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    In journalism school, we had to learn proper fact checking technique and we had tests where we had to completely fact-check articles with two sources for every factual statement.

    It was one of the many things I learned in journalism school that I never heard about again...

     

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  3.  
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    ajgajg1134 (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:10pm

    No surprise here

    Just shows how some of the places we think are the least accurate are the most accurate. I think this might be able to be applied to Bloggers and newspapers.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Didn't Jon Stewart help cause the demise of "Crossfire", the so-called debate show, by calling them political parrots and proving it right on set?

    That pretty much sums up the majority of news networks out there. They parrot statements rather than report on them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:18pm

    "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.

     

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  6.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Considering most "news" is now 100% infotainment, it's not so much "backwards" as...the Daily Show just being more competent.

     

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  8.  
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    yo, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:37pm

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

    BWAHAHAHBWAHAHHAHAHA. heh he. Snort.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    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?

     

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  10.  
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    Stute, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:51pm

    What better way to make people laugh Mike?

    Than to just show them the truth.

     

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  11.  
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    zaven (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Re:

    I'm one of the people in that 70%. I've gotten sick and tired of getting my news from actual news programs and their mindless babbling. Most of my news info comes from the Daily Show and the internet.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    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.

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:13pm

    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 :)

     

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  14.  
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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:19pm

    Re:

    It seems, these days, that I nod sternly in agreement at what I hear and see on The Daily Show, and it's what passes for "news" on the other channels that makes me laugh...

    Topsy Turvy.

    CBMHB

     

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    kenfretz (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

    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

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    I've said it before, I'll say it again...

    The Daily Show is not a comedy show, it's an actual news show that also happens to be funny. The news is real, it's merely presented in a funny and highly entertaining way.

     

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  17.  
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    Brent Ashley (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:39pm

    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.

     

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  18.  
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    Be a F***ing Person Adherent, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 7:08pm

    TDS *has* to be factually correct, elsewise they'd just look like...too many other news outlets.

    We only laugh to keep from screaming.

     

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  19.  
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    Jon Renaut (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Anyone watching the Daily Show right now?

    Jon Stewart just called out MSNBC for using photoshopped pictures of Sarah Palin to make a point without realizing they were fakes.

     

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  20.  
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    Caleb, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    My political science textbook straight up says that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are what people my age watch now for news, and mentions studies showing how people who say they watch those shows are more informed than people who watch other shows. Pretty much what intuition would suggest.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 7:56pm

    Re:

    No fucking wonder we elected a foreign socialist bastard, that wants to take the wealth that our parents built and give it to the rest of the world. I hope you guys enjoy your $20 a day wages you will all be making in a few years.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Considering many Americans are making $0 a day I would say this would be quite the improvement.

     

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  23.  
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    alternatives(), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 8:46pm

    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.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Hi Glenn. Don't get your tears on my intelligence.

     

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  25.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:25pm

    Point #4?

    Isn't FoxNC filling it right now according to umm I don't know ratings? Combined rating other cable broadcasters not even touching Fox?

    Though I would like to see CC ratings staked next to Fox to conclude the point.

     

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  26.  
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    Pjerky (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re:

    This reminds me of an episode of sliders where they slid into a dimension where the tabloids wrote about the truth while the mainstream media made up all their stories (like the tabloids of our world). Things certainly seem to be looking more and more like the world in that episode.

     

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  27.  
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    Dirk Belligerent (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 10:13pm

    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 - 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.

     

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  28.  
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    Luke, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 11:01pm

    RE: Show the videotape.

    @Dirk Belligerent ,

    You do realise that TDS actually _did_ show that videotape, right?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 11:11pm

    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.

     

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  30.  
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    Sefu, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 11:13pm

    Fact Checking

    That is what makes it so funny, the facts that it brings forth. Sometimes the funniest stories are the factual one's.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 12:45am

    Long Live The Daily Show! Best show on TV.

     

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  32.  
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    Call me Al, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 2:23am

    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.

     

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  33.  
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    DS, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 4:21am

    Fact checker? Daily Show?

    Why do I firmly believe that they focus only on people with a (R) after their name, and ignore anyone with a (D).

    Or maybe, just maybe, they want to make sure that they don't get sued.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re:

    Dude, he made fun of Obama all the time and still does. You just don't realize it because you only watch out for when he makes fun of conservatives.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 4:54am

    Re:

    Seriously, how do people not realize that Stewart and Colbert *do* make fun of liberals and what not. They *do* call them out when they do something wrong.

    Beck, not so much. If you believed him, you'd think the right are full of folks who never lied in their lives.

     

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  36.  
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    JerryS, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re:

    Beck never claims to be a reporter. He constantly points out his show is an opinion show, not journalism. While I might not agree with him on everything, I respect his honesty about things being his opinion compared to some opinion who claim to be impartial journalists.

     

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  37.  
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    Jon Bane (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    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.

     

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  38.  
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    Mechwarrior, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re:

    Your parents built healthcare? My parents can't even afford it, Id like to find your parents and punch them in the face.

     

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  39.  
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    Wolfy, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re:

    Where has this person been for the last 30 years?!? What an idiot. Yeah, Obama's responsible for all of America's ills... Stop drinking the cool-aide, pal! You might look at what both "gangs" in Washington D.C. have been up to without your rethuglican blinders on.

     

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  40.  
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    chris (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:12am

    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.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    I don't want Glen Beck to die in a fire. I want him to get hideously burned in a fire, and live.

     

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  42.  
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    Derek Reed (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    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.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    Re: Fact Checking

    Comedy is often about taking the truth and making it sound funny.

     

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  44.  
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    Derek Reed (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    Re: Point #4?

    Comedy Central is filling the void of informed journalism. Fox News is filling the (admittedly much larger) need for lowest common denominator pandering and idiocracy.

     

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  45.  
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    Derek Reed (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:14am

    Re:

    Are we talking about the same Glenn Beck? The same one who to this day still hasn't responded to the allegations of that incident in 1990?

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    Re:

    FYI, this is what he actually said. Youtube has the videos for that program.

    I'll leave it to you to google for the statements that showed that this led to the demise of Crossfile.

     

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  47.  
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    deadzone (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 9:38am

    Brilliant Show

    I get most of my news from the Internet, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.

    It's a complete role reversal really. The news media makes up the comedy and then the comedy shows report on it. :)

     

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  48.  
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    TheStupidOne, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re:

    Which is the reason I watch the daily show and read news online.

     

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  49.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Re:

    At least with the Daily Show, it's clear when they're telling it like it is, and when they're talking out of their ass. I guess it's pretty clear when the major news networks are talking out of their asses, too ... whenever they're airing.

     

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  50.  
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    Derek, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    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.

     

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  51.  
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    Esahc (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    +1 for Sliders reference

     

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  52.  
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    Jacob (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 7:45pm

    Credibility

    This may be mentioned above, but I figure if for no other reason, TDS needs to be sure they are correct just so the rest of the media can't say they are making stuff up. In being a comedy show, they already face a challenge for credibility. They have built that for many years, now they need to keep it.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    Re:

    @DS:
    "Why do I firmly believe that they focus only on people with a (R) after their name, and ignore anyone with a (D)."

    Is it because you don't even watch the show and believe what Beck tells you to believe? TDS & TCR do equal opportunity sarcasm. If it's worthy of ridicule, they ridicule.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2009 @ 11:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Says the guy that would blow Glenn Beck.

     

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  55.  
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    Bob Weiss, Nov 21st, 2009 @ 6:55am

    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.

     

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  56.  
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    Bob Weiss, Nov 21st, 2009 @ 6:57am

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

    And to other commenters - seriousl - Glen Beck - as a political conservative all I can say is - what a jack ass.

     

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  57.  
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    Michael (profile), Dec 19th, 2009 @ 1:22am

    Late...

    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).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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