When Jon Stewart interviewed former president Jimmy Carter recently, the topic of Stewart’s upcoming ‘Rally to Restore Sanity‘ arose. Carter commented that Stewart was now becoming involved in politics. At the same time, fellow comedian Stephen Colbert testified before a congressional committee.
At the same time as Stewart and Colbert are moving in new directions, a new satirical news source has emerged. The Young Turks is a website and media show sponsored by Sirius Satellite Radio. It has a kind of unpolished authenticity, lacking the production values of Stewart and Colbert’s offerings. It skews younger and edgier, and the website will start playing a Sirius Satellite stream if you leave it alone too long.
Many young people who I know don’t own televisions, and watch only Stewart and Colbert as video news sources. I am not sure how to feel about that, all in all. Neither seems too partisan, in the end. They mock Obama and Democrats about as much as Republicans. At the same time, perhaps it is worrisome that people (myself included) only absorb American news by means of a couple of spoof shows. There is a risk of fostering confirmation bias, and of developing a distorted sense of what political figures stand for and how influential they are.
On the other hand, most people I know also get a lot of print news from online sources (and sometimes even old school printed newspapers). Stewart and Colbert make intelligent arguments in clever ways, and don’t usually seem to misrepresent people too egregiously. Also, watching those shows helps people stay in touch with the general state of discussion about American politics, which probably resides more on television than online, at least for those who aren’t part of the tech-savvy subset of news consumers.