It turns out "The Daily Show" makes viewers more cynical, makes them less likely to read newspapers, eliminates the positive effects of statins, decreases the birth rate, increases hurricanes, and, come 2008, might just lead us to a totalitarian regime. All these inferences are as logical as the ones Richard Morin covers in his latest Washington Post column.
He reviewed a study from Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris of East Carolina University who found that "The Daily Show" makes its young, impressionable viewers more cynical. Apparently, after watching Jon Stewart, viewers have less respect for politicians across the political spectrum, and they put less trust in the news media.
"Ultimately, negative perceptions of candidates could have participation implications by keeping more youth from the polls," they wrote.
Well, yes, this is true. If you think everyone running for office is an idiot, it's going to be hard to wake up early come election day. But imagine the other consequences: viewers demanding more of the news media, people aware of who's representing them and what the elected officials are doing for (or against) their constituents, citizens seeking out political candidates with more substance. What the study completely seems to overlook, if the Post's coverage of it is anywhere near accurate (being a cynical "Daily Show" watcher, that's a tenuous assumption), is what dangers lie from buying into very last word that politicians and the media spew out.
It's the status quo that allows this Post reporter to recycle coverage of this study without even questioning what it's saying. He'd be well served by watching "The Daily Show." Maybe he'd even develop a sense of humor.
Okay, the show's good, but that's a tall order.