Friday, June 23, 2006

It's Not Mr. Stewart That Pushes Young Voters Away But the Parties Themselves

Richard Moran argues in his op-ed in the Washington Post that Jon Stewart's Daily Show could be a poison to Democracy because of how he excoriates both parties on his show. He states:

This is not funny: Jon Stewart and his hit Comedy Central cable show may be poisoning democracy. 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. That's particularly dismaying news because the show is hugely popular among college students, many of whom already don't bother to cast ballots. Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris of East Carolina University said previous research found that nearly half -- 48 percent -- of this age group watched "The Daily Show" and only 23 percent of show viewers followed "hard news" programs closely. To test for a "Daily Effect," Baumgartner and Morris showed video clips of coverage of the 2004 presidential candidates to one group of college students and campaign coverage from "The CBS Evening News" to another group. Then they measured the students' attitudes toward politics, President Bush and the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.). The results showed that the participants rated both candidates more negatively after watching Stewart's program. Participants also expressed less trust in the electoral system and more cynical views of the news media, according to the researchers' article, in the latest issue of American Politics Research. "Ultimately, negative perceptions of candidates could have participation implications by keeping more youth from the polls," they wrote.
But Mr. Morin, perhaps Jon Stewart is quite correct in his assessment of both parties. Perhaps they are as bad as he describes. Perhaps they really truly deserve no votes. Perhaps America needs to crumble before enough people realize just how corrupt both parties have become.

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