I <3 Jon Stewart.
June 27, 2006 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Jon Stewart: Enemy of Democracy. I have read much of Richard Morin's column, but I think we can say off the bat that a)political scientists are not really scientists, but sociologists b) this guy is full of hot air, and highly bipartisan. What's wrong with liking Third parties?
via(HoT)
posted by Doorstop (54 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: previously discussed



 
Jon Stewart very ably does the job that political satirists have always done: taking politicians down a peg, regardless of party. This needs to be done since anybody with the gall to think they are fit to rule govern needs to be cut down to size, just to keep them honest. So anyone who does that would be a friend of democracy, I think.
posted by jonmc at 6:54 AM on June 27, 2006


If we assume that democracy is successful only based on the level of participation, then Morin is right.

If we think of democracy as a system of voluntary participation, then Morin is wrong. In this kind of system, it would be up to leaders to convince people that they were fiscally sensible and ethically accountable.

Oh, wait. Then they couldn't get elected. Looks like the problem is that college kids don't want to vote for their parents' politicians.
posted by ewkpates at 6:56 AM on June 27, 2006


Frankly, I think Jon Stewart and TDS have done more to boost participation and interest in politics than to downsize it. What they didn't survey was the percentage of students who would watch "Hard news" if the Daily Show didn't exist. The reason that these students are cynical about politics is because the Daily Show does a fabulous job pointing out the state of politics in America today.

While the TDS may skew politicians on the show, it also brings on authors of relevant and scholarly books which I sincerely doubt that most of the viewers would be aware of otherwise.
posted by Atreides at 7:00 AM on June 27, 2006


?
posted by prostyle at 7:01 AM on June 27, 2006


This article was 150 words long. Where is a link to the study?
posted by parmanparman at 7:03 AM on June 27, 2006


In contemporary America, it's important to remember to always blame the messenger.
posted by effwerd at 7:03 AM on June 27, 2006


That blurb is so far off the mark of what the study actually says that I can only see it as being an intentional lie.
posted by empath at 7:03 AM on June 27, 2006


Not very sound reasoning on the article's part, IMHO. The article assumes a cause/efect relationship between watching the show and not voting, where it might actually be the case that the sort of people who are inclined not to vote are also attracted to the show precisely because Stewart is a critic of both sides.
And really: perhaps the reason TDS watchers were "more cynical" about both Kerry and Bush after watching the show because Stewart's satire is dead-on and niether candidate was inspiring or worth the trouble.*







*disclosure: I voted for Kerry.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:04 AM on June 27, 2006


In particular,
our findings illustrate that The Daily Show’s effect on political efficacy
is mixed. To begin with, exposure to the showlowered trust in the media
and the electoral process. This may be the result of Stewart’s tendency to
highlight the absurdities of the political world. Relatedly, we found that
exposure to The Daily Show increased internal efficacy by raising viewers’
perception that the complex world of politics was understandable. Stewart’s
style of humor paints the complexities of politics as a function of the absurdity
and incompetence of political elites, thus leading viewers to blame any
lack of understanding not on themselves but on those who run the system. In
presenting politics as the theater of the absurd, Stewart seemingly simplifies
it.
Both of these finding about political efficacy have implications for political
participation that need to be explored further.We have demonstrated that
there are attitudinal effects to exposure to The Daily Show, but what of behavioral
effects? Increased internal efficacy might, all other things being equal,
contribute to greater participation. Citizens who understand politics are more
likely to participate than those who do not. Moreover, the increased cynicism
associated with decreased external efficacy may contribute to an actively
critical orientation toward politics. This may translate into better citizenship,
because a little skepticism toward the political system could be considered
healthy for democracy.

posted by empath at 7:08 AM on June 27, 2006


I wonder if anyone has statistics on the rate of voting, and or other political action, among college students who are fans of the daily show vs those who don’t watch. I’d bet the fans are more likely to vote and more active politically. Watching implies an interest in and cynicism implies an understanding of politics.
posted by subtle_squid at 7:09 AM on June 27, 2006


I think we can say off the bat that a)political scientists are not really scientists, but sociologists

Well not really. Both are fields of social science and certainly there is a fuzzy boundry between the two when you get into political sociology.

But was your point to dismiss the findings because it's not "science"? That'd be a mistake. The study of political engagement and political efficacy has a long history and a very large body of research. That there's a correlation between seeking out and watching political satire (which is very funny but not exactly brimming with hope) and disengagement with voting isn't really shocking.

One should always be careful making judgements about research from a short news article trying to be provocative.

If you scrolled down a bit further in your first link you'd read the results of another political scientist--Shanto Iyengar, a major league political scientist--who reports findings showing the impact of race on charitable giving. Not as sexy as The Daily Show, perhaps, but a great example of political science research.
posted by donovan at 7:10 AM on June 27, 2006


Stewart’s
style of humor paints the complexities of politics as a function of the absurdity and incompetence of political elites, thus leading viewers to blame any lack of understanding not on themselves but on those who run the system.


Right. Politicians do shit that don't make no sense, and it isn't because they're detached from reality, but because the other 95% of us are? Politics is absurd. Doesn't mean I'm going to stop voting, just like that I don't own a tv and therefore don't watch "hard news" shows doesn't mean I don't know what's going on in the world.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:12 AM on June 27, 2006


i agree with all of you, save on one point. speaking as a young adult/student, i would have to say that we are frustrated with politics in general. bipartisan choices are limited and extreme. third parties have little or no chance thank to the quiet brainwashing of society. no one even THINKS about third party options when voting. it's pretty sad really. they have no hope because of the myopic mindset instilled by democrats and republicans. a republic is supposed to have many choices, not just two.
posted by Doorstop at 7:12 AM on June 27, 2006


"Seriously, the House of Representatives is filled with insane jackasses."

Gosh, I wonder why people who watch the Daily Show develop cynical views about politics. Perhaps because it's a broken system filled with morons and grandstanders.

But John Stewart is an enemy to democracy. Him and libraries.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:14 AM on June 27, 2006


In a healthy democracy, the "fourth column" (i.e. a healthy, investigative press) would be the informative yin to the satirist's yang. Stewart's work is motivationally unbalancing only because the press has forfeited its job.
posted by squirrel at 7:15 AM on June 27, 2006 [2 favorites]


There seems to be an active push-back from the mainstream media against both Stewart/Colbert and the blogosphere.

2008 is going to be almost unbearably vicious, I think. I may just shut off the internet entirely to spare my sanity.
posted by empath at 7:16 AM on June 27, 2006


posted by Atreides The reason that these students are cynical about politics is because the Daily Show does a fabulous job pointing out the state of politics in America today.

Precisely. To quote Homer Simpson: "It's funny, because it's true."

Here's a big spinning headline for Mr. Moron: the reason we're so skeptical our elected leaders will do anything other than advancing their own self-interests is because they've done nothing but that since, well, forever. Big fucking mystery there, Dick.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:17 AM on June 27, 2006


This article says democrats are racist. That may be the first time I've ever seen that in print.

I believe it, and republicans have always known it, but it's the first time I've seen it.
posted by tadellin at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2006


What donovan said.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:23 AM on June 27, 2006


Jon Stewart reports that the Emperor has no clothes, and for some strange reason TDS viewers are less likely to respect the Emperor's dress sense. Gosh, what a puzzling effect. A real head-scratcher, that one. It must be his attitude or something, huh.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:24 AM on June 27, 2006


There seems to be an active push-back from the mainstream media against both Stewart/Colbert and the blogosphere.

I guess it stings to see comedians doing your job...and doing it better than you.
The MSM can go fuck itself. It dug its own grave with it's head-in-the-sand antics. That's bad news for our democracy, though. A weak, ineffectual press is not a good thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:29 AM on June 27, 2006


donovan i didn't make my decision based on an article. i studied sociology and psychology in undergrad. as much as i would love to fool myself into thinking that its empirical, once you see their testing methods, its all statistics on opinions. its not based on any sort of tangible evidence. political science is a branch of sociology. social science is not a hard science.
posted by Doorstop at 7:32 AM on June 27, 2006


Morin is really saying that he thinks that the press is the enemy of democracy. If they would just shut up already the decider could get on with the job of running the country. Morin is a moron.
posted by caddis at 7:35 AM on June 27, 2006


or a moran.
posted by jonmc at 7:36 AM on June 27, 2006


According to these quickly googled stats, voter turnout among 18-25 year olds in 2000 was 36%. In 2004, it was 47%. Using Morin's logic and casual reasoning, it's easy to see that as John Stewart gets more popular, more young people are voting. Of course, there might not be any real relationship there, but hey, that doesn't seem to matter to the Washington Post these days - but I don't want to be cynical or anything.
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:41 AM on June 27, 2006


correlation ≠ causation.

It's quite plausible to me that the CBS News is popular among the naive, while the Daily Show is popular among the cynical.

Why presume that the egg preceded the chicken? There is no evidence for that in the study.
posted by aubin at 7:41 AM on June 27, 2006


Jon Stewart: Enemy of Democracy. I have read much of Richard Morin's column, but I think we can say off the bat that a)political scientists are not really scientists, but sociologists b) this guy is full of hot air, and highly bipartisan. What's wrong with liking Third parties? via (HoT)
There, I fixed that for you.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:42 AM on June 27, 2006


Nice use of turd polish, monju_bosatsu.
posted by dios at 7:43 AM on June 27, 2006


The problem with voting in most places in the US today is that you're forced to choose a candidate; I wonder if voter turnout would go up significantly if they added "None of the Above" to the ballots?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:45 AM on June 27, 2006


This article says democrats are racist. That may be the first time I've ever seen that in print.

I believe it, and republicans have always known it, but it's the first time I've seen it.


Classic, insane, partisan ranting, rather than meaningful dialogue.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2006


There, I fixed that for you.

Not much to fix - it's a double. Don't let that stop you from having your fun though, you sly fox.
posted by prostyle at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2006


social science is not a hard science.

Well, neither is science, if you believe the current administration.
posted by blucevalo at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2006


But John Stewart is an enemy to democracy. Him and libraries.

And voting. Voting is an enemy of democracy too.
posted by three blind mice at 8:00 AM on June 27, 2006


Voting is a government plot.
posted by jonmc at 8:05 AM on June 27, 2006


I remember Stewart exhorting people to vote, I guess it was just before the 2000 election. In any case, if people are worried about the lack of respect for politicians in the US, they should look over to the UK. David Cameron interviewed by Jonathan Ross. The bit that made it into the papers starts from around 5:30.
posted by teleskiving at 8:06 AM on June 27, 2006


ZenMasterThis

That is a great idea. If "None Of The Above" gets the most votes the parties have to select new candidates and start over.
posted by waltb555 at 8:08 AM on June 27, 2006


John Stewart, Libraries, and propaganda. And news.
posted by ewkpates at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2006


I believe it, and republicans have always known it, but it's the first time I've seen it.

Then you haven't been paying attention. I can remember seeing that little chestnut excreted on a regular basis by the intellectualoids on the right as early as the early 1980s. If I had to guess, I'd guess that it emitted in its first effective form from Bill Buckley or one of his henchmen.

More to the point of Doorstop's closing question, I think it's interesting that he asks it and then points to an article that makes the problems so abundantly clear...
posted by lodurr at 8:15 AM on June 27, 2006


how is jon stewart poisoning democracy? ... isn't that more like pouring a dixie cup full of water onto a man drowning in the ocean? ... in other words, probably useless, certainly entertaining, but not the big problem
posted by pyramid termite at 8:29 AM on June 27, 2006


I would say that Richard Morin is partisan, not bipartisan. YMMV, of course.
posted by LeisureGuy at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2006


This article says democrats are racist. That may be the first time I've ever seen that in print.

I believe it, and republicans have always known it, but it's the first time I've seen it.
Since the article has no link to the study, it's very difficult to get a handle on what they were measuring. Bluntly, I would be suspicious of any scientist who claims that the results of their study is that "democrats racist, republicans are principled" (I know the scientist didn't say that, but that's how the clearly unbiased Richard Morin parsed it).

I would be interested in how this data was measured, and how individuals in the study were labeled as republican/democrat.

It's important to note, of course that we're probably talking about people in the Katrina affected areas, so Lousiana, Mississippi and Texas? Not sure, but my point is that it sounds like the study is problematic on a number of levels, the first of which is that national party identifiers are used to label localized phenomena (i.e. a Texas democrat is probably not the same as a Pennsylvania democrat, so is it useful to label them as a democrat without additional identifiers?).

Additionally, applying labels like "principled" to human behavior is pretty difficult to do objectively, and I'd suggest that there's probably a bias at work. For example, I would label the Republican behavior as "ideologically consistant" rather than principled. After all, we don't label sociopaths as "principled" simply because they act according to prinicples which ignore the value of other people.

Also, the study talks about "giving" in partisan terms, but is this governemental "giving" (which we usually call "Aid," "Assistance" or "Welfare"), or is it individual charitable contributions? It seems from this bit from the WSJ editorial page that the study is based on purely hypothetical data (i.e. what a participant thinks rather than what they did):
Very interesting, and kudos to Morin and Iyengar for the follow-up. We should say, though, that although these results are consistent with our own prejudices about those on the liberal side of the political spectrum, we doubt this study comes anywhere near proving anything. This is for several reasons:
  • Although it's not specified how the survey participants were chosen, it seems clear that they are a self-selected rather than representative sample. The follow-up work corrects for political bias but apparently not for other biases (e.g., toward highly educated whites).
  • As we understand the description of the study, each individual participant saw either a white face or a black face (or another variant), not both. Thus the disparities found were between the averages of two different groups of people. It may be that the differences were the result of some unknown factor, whether random or systemic, that differentiates the two groups.
  • Even if we assume that the disparity is the result of liberals "being affected by racial cues," such cues do not necessarily reflect racist attitudes (in the classic sense of believing that blacks are inferior). It could be that liberals believe blacks are more resilient and thus need less help to recover, or that they believe (correctly) that blacks have lower incomes on average and thus need less to compensate for lost wages.
Also, we take issue with the characterization of Democrats as "generous" because they are willing to "give" more money to the hypothetical victims. Participants were not asked how much of their own money they were willing to contribute, but rather how much "government aid" they thought the victims should receive.

If Democrats are more eager to spend "government" money than Republicans are--and, with the possible exception of members of Congress, it is a commonplace that they are--does this mean that Democrats are more "generous"? Or does it mean that Republicans are more apt to think of government as spending their money, while Democrats think of it as other people's?
I could go on and on. Anyone have a link to the actual study, or am I safe just calling bullshit on this one? It appears that Morin and Iyegar are birds of a feather, which is to say both partisan Rebpublicans. This is fine and good, but I don't usually give a crap what partisans on either side have to say about the "principles" of themselves or thier opponents, because they're often most full of shit on that topic.
posted by illovich at 8:51 AM on June 27, 2006


A new study suggests that cancer patients who are confronted with the grim reality of their situation tend view cancer negatively.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


There seems to be an active push-back from the mainstream media against both Stewart/Colbert and the blogosphere.

Yeah -- Anderson Cooper was on the other day (last Wednesday?) and there was a snide comment about loud music and graphics or logos or whatever, and Anderson said, "Yet here you sit, using the music and the graphics," and JS responded, "Yeah, when you're a parody, you go where the money is." Anderson looked a little taken aback. It's as if the media views TDS as competition, when he's really just holding up a mirror to both politicians and the media to show them how silly and stupid they are.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2006


Good point, pyramid termite ... As long as there are bogeymen like Jon Stewart (!) to focus upon, the real sources of democracy being poisoned (more complex and un-media-sexy causes like the current system of government being infested with K Street lobbyists, campaign consultants, and money-greased quid pro quos) can go on indefinitely without pause.
posted by blucevalo at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2006


Hard News = Blow Dried Press Poodles.

If they hate being irrelevant, then start *reporting* 'hard news' instead of recycling press statements issued to them.

Yapyapyapyapyap. . . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2006


Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart's faux news program, "The Daily Show," develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting.

Because its a sham? Those political scientists should know that.
posted by j-urb at 9:22 AM on June 27, 2006


Of course when voting is increasingly seen as rigged (hi, Diebold!) and irrelevant you're going to have problems getting people to the polling stations. To blame Stewart and other commentators for this is facile and, frankly, intellectually dishonest, being nothing but a rehash of the "shoot the messenger" attitude that seems to be turning at least a good segment of America into a brownshirt squad -- starting, disturbingly, by the very top of the political echelons.
posted by clevershark at 9:23 AM on June 27, 2006


Perhaps my own cynicism is coloring my view here, but wouldn't making young people angry at the system and distrustful of current politicians make them MORE likely to vote for, if not a better candidate, at least the LESSER evil?

Or is that just me?

Someone famous once said "If you're not outraged, then you're not paying attention" and I tend to agree.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2006


donovan i didn't make my decision based on an article. i studied sociology and psychology in undergrad. . .

doorstop, we could debate for days on what constitutes a "science" and what makes a "hard" v "soft" science but you have some assertions here that are wrong and bear correcting.

"would love to fool myself into thinking that its empirical" . . . how are experimental designs and survey research not "empirical"--this isn't a philosphical exercise this is about using defined methods to collect data in a way that can be repeated. That's empirical.

"once you see their testing methods, its all statistics on opinions. its not based on any sort of tangible evidence."
To begin with, there are multiple branches of the social sciences and of political science. There are scholars using empirical methods including approaches such as ethnography and quantitative analysis as well as folks (in PoliSci) who study political philosophy and theory and wouldn't consider themselves scientists. You can't paint with a broad brush.

If you believe that "statistics" doesn't count as "tangible evidence" then you've just written off a huge body of knowledge which includes not just PoliSci and Economics, but much of what you'd clasify as "hard science." Epidemiology? Atmospheric Science? The list goes on . . .

political science is a branch of sociology.
Nope. The field has its origin in ancient philosophy, though the rise of empirical/quantitative methods really took off post-WWII with the "Behavioral Revolution" which impacted many of the social sciences. Sociology and Political Science have developed largely independently, but especially in the late-20th century you do see cross pollination.
posted by donovan at 10:04 AM on June 27, 2006


I was cynical about politics before I started watching TDS. For the record, The Daily Show's political coverage is what inspired me to register and vote.
posted by geeky at 10:07 AM on June 27, 2006


1) Double post. 2) Painting all political scientists with one large brush--blowing off the entire discipline, really-based on one lousy article. Thanks. Why is this FPP still up?
posted by raysmj at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2006


The article is just a pot stirring smoke blowing about a not-linked study, yet there is an attribution : Watching Daily Show causes cynism. That I think is in the same league of assertion like "hearing Rush Limbaugh causes hypocrisy" ...on the contrary, on top of my head and without data I would guess cynics enjoy Daily Show because it attempts to portray the depth of misery with a laugh , while hypocrites appreciate Limbaugh because he's a sanctimonious ass.
posted by elpapacito at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2006


That I think is in the same league of assertion like "hearing Rush Limbaugh causes hypocrisy"

If you listen for long enough you can pick up a contact buzz from the big guy.
posted by clevershark at 10:32 AM on June 27, 2006


MeTa.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:03 AM on June 27, 2006


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