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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

When the truth is only found in fake news

Published: April 27, 2007
Section: Opinions

On Tuesdays Daily Show, John McCain was the subject of one of the most uncomfortable (if not downright crazy) interviews in the history of television, and while McCain succeeded only in cementing an image of a bitter old man, Jon Stewart solidified his own show as the only trustworthy and genuine source of news within in this country. Some might find it strange that most of our generation is taking its news from a channel that also features Carlos Mencia, but in the end there is strong evidence that a small revolution is taking place among Daily Show viewers, one that is producing an entire population of young, yet sophisticated voters.

Our grandparents had Edward R. Murrow, and our parents were equally blessed to have Walter Cronkite reporting the news on television, but after Cronkites retirement and the advent of Cable, a long malaise fell on the important industry of news media. With the notable exception of Mike Wallaces 60 Minutes program (which today only attracts a very elderly audience), television news has been successful only in exciting those whishing for salacious material and investigating events in popular culture. The days of hard-hitting interviews of politicians and investigative reporting in the same style of Woodward and Bernstein have been long lost, as the cooperate interests of ratings and advertisement revenue have supplanted the real job of the press;

informing the public when things are amiss. The last 20 years have seen the rise (and the subsequent retirement and replacement) of a whole slew of celebrity talking head lead anchors, whose antics and faults are so great that they have inspired a TV show whose popularity and strength have grown annually over its 10 year existence.

Jon Stewart, the Daily Shows lead anchor since 1999, has proved himself to be more than an insightful and creative comedian, and now stands as one of the most formidable interviewers on TV alongside such names as Tim Russell or Charlie Rose. McCain was only the most recent member of a growing fraternity of people who have underestimated Stewarts articulate and extensive grasp of politics and more importantly, morality. Stewart has grilled the likes of Richard Perle and John Bolton (whom he exposed as a nerdy malcontent with a weak grasp of history), through the deceptively comfortable confines of a comedy program, inadvertently creating a place where a comedian has more power than any other journalist in this country.

The correspondents for the Daily Show have also been successful in the creation of the funniest, but also most insightful program on television. Steven Colbert is the most notable among these Daily Show foot soldiers, successfully satirizing the conservative figureheads of post 9/11 cable news and showing just how moronic the OReily generation of news broadcasters is. The various correspondent pieces have also sharpened the wit and mindset of the shows followers, creating an entire generation of responsible and skeptical viewers, who can now better identify when and how they are being lied to.

With this insistence of alerting the public to our country's various problems through the tool of humor, the Daily Show has increased the knowledge and sophistication of our generation. People who regularly view the Daily Show are consistently at the top of polls measuring political awareness and knowledge of current events. This reality of the great proportion of highly knowledgeable Daily Show fans becomes even more striking when compared with traditional news shows on cable news, where partisan spin and outright lies and pugnacious journalism consistently get in the way of telling the truth and providing objective facts to their viewership.

The Daily Show has been at the forefront of not only pointing out the never ending hypocrisy and stupidity in our government and politics, but in the problems that have developed in the news media as well. Daily Show correspondents have been fearless when interviewing public figures like John McCain but have been equally persistent when posed against the likes of Tucker Carlson, showing a relentless journalistic spirit that has been long missing from the American media sphere. Politicians, prize-wining authors, and various other public figures have all visited the show, not with the intent of being funny per say, but rather elevating the message and tone from the angry and idiotic debates that we have become accustomed to on cable news. In one way it is sad that a comedy show has become the sanctuary of responsible and hard-hitting news, but it seems fitting for a time where our government and media are full of clowns.