The Stewart/Colbert Effect

Essays on the Real Impacts of Fake News

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About the Book

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report have attracted much interest in recent years from popular audiences as well as scholars in various disciplines. Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been named on Time magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world. The ten essays in this interdisciplinary collection explore the issues engendered by the popularity of entertainment news, including the role of satire in politics, the declining level of trust in traditional sources of media, the shows’ cathartic or informational function, and the ways in which these shows influence public opinion. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Amarnath Amarasingam is a doctoral candidate in the Laurier-Waterloo Ph.D. program in religious studies and holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellowship. He has published articles in Studies in Religion, The Journal of Contemporary Religion, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Muslim Minority Affairs, The Journal of Religion and Film, and Mental Health, Religion, and Culture.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Amarnath Amarasingam

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, charts, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-5886-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8668-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert W. McChesney      1
Preface      3
Introduction: Surveying Scholarship on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
JOSH COMPTON      9

PART I. NEW RESEARCH ON THE DAILY SHOW AND THE COLBERT REPORT
The Science of Satire: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as Sources of Public Attention to Science and the Environment
LAUREN FELDMAN, ANTHONY LEISEROWITZ, and EDWARD MAIBACH      25
Making Sense of The Daily Show: Understanding the Role of Partisan Heuristics in Political Comedy Effects
MICHAEL A. XENOS, PATRICIA MOY, and AMY B. BECKER      47
Stoned Slackers or Super- Citizens? The Daily Show Viewing and Political Engagement of Young Adults
JODY C. BAUMGARTNER and JONATHAN S. MORRIS      63
Is Fake News the Real News? The Significance of Stewart and Colbert for Democratic Discourse, Politics, and Policy
MARK K. MCBETH and RANDY S. CLEMONS      79
Jon Stewart a Heretic? Surely You Jest: Political Participation and Discussion Among Viewers of Late- Night Comedy Programming
DANNAGAL GOLDTHWAITE YOUNG and SARAH E. ESRALEW      99

PART II. THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Irony and the News: Speaking Through Cool to American Youth
RICHARD VAN HEERTUM      117
Wise Fools: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as Modern- Day Jesters in the American Court
JULIA R. FOX      136
I Am the Mainstream Media (and So Can You!)
ROBERT T. TALLY, JR.      149
It’s All About Meme: The Art of the Interview and the Insatiable Ego of the Colbert Bump
KEVIN A. WISNIEWSKi      164
Real Ethical Concerns and Fake News: The Daily Show and the Challenge of the New Media Environment
BRUCE A. WILLIAMS and MICHAEL X. DELLI CARPINI      181

About the Contributors      193
Index      197

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “sharply focused, well researched, and accessible, these essays explore the impact of the false news shows on political, cultural, and social life. Amarasingam’s collection expands the growing scholarship and adds insight into these two popular and influential television programs. Highly recommended”—Choice
  • “highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review
  • “Today’s political establishment is worthy of satirization, and, as a result, the study of political satire is necessary in order to understand our core democratic processes. Essays on Fake News advances our understanding of who is consuming political TV satire, the messages being provided by Stewart and Colbert, and the democratic effects derived from watching these important political information outlets.”—R. Lance Holbert, The Ohio State University, co-author, Political Communication in the 21st Century
  • “Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not only funny, they are significant forces in the contemporary practice of American politics. This volume offers an excellent study of how and why their presence matters and deserves serious scholarly attention.”—Jeffrey P. Jones, Old Dominion University, author, Entertaining Politics: Satiric Television and Political Engagement
  •  “For millions of people, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have become a favorite source of news, information, and political commentary. The contributors to this collection help us both to better understand why, and to think through the potential effects of so many people’s fascination with Stewart and Colbert. The result is a thought-provoking book that any student, fan, or skeptic of the two shows should have on the shelf.”—Geoffrey Baym, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, author, From Cronkite to Colbert: The Evolution of Broadcast News
  •  “This is an essential collection of articles, with lots of data, for anyone interested in how fake news works and what it does to people.”—John Morreall, College of William and Mary, author, Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor