Senior Sem Paper

Submitted By Ally-Branco
Words: 630
Pages: 3

Millions of Americans tune in to watch them. They have even been compared to Murrow, Cronkite, Shakespearian fools, and even Socrates. Their guests range from world leaders to celebrities. But who and what are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: 21st Century journalists or as they claim to be just comedians? The answer isn’t exactly clear as the line between comedy and journalism has blurred. Nonetheless, their position has given them a unique ability to raise issues and call out politicians in ways that mainstream journalists will not. within this paper I will look at communication and rhetoric studies, and how Jon Stewart and Colbert use persuasive and argumentative communication to get their point across to their audiences. Scholars have undertaken recent study into The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as an important source for information and critique. Perhaps the most cited example is Baumgartner (2008) examination of the program as a reinvention of political reporting. Baumgartner asserts that The Daily Show and Colbert Report’s mix of humor and critique, “is a quite serious demand for fact accountability, and reason in political discourse” (p. 25). Of course the impact of these shows is also examined by Popkin (2012). Popkin considers how the program impacts American youth, ultimately concluding that the show may increase cynicism toward politicals and politicians in an already disaffected youth. (Knapp, 2011) concluded that programs such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report may provide viewers with information that they may otherwise not receive. These studies and others lay the foundation for legitimizing these shows as true news and as the men that report it as journalists. Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Colbert Report are deemed as “fake news” but these shows are the best examples of a hybrid genre, mixing entertainment with an insightful critique of the media. Baumgartner describes it as an experiment in journalistic practices in that it’s hybrid parody, satire, and serious discussion presented in an entertaining way , which moves beyond the limits of traditional news. Despite the concern that it’s comedic approach to news would negatively affect its audience’s understanding of the world, The Daily Show and Colbert Report’s audience is actually among the most informed segments of the population, though also typically cynical about both the media and the government (Knapp, 2011). These shows though and the men that host them have developed credibility even as the “serious” media has lost it. The shows have gotten