Try as he may, Jon Stewart has maintained, since taking over Craig Kilborne’s spot on The Daily Show, that his show is nothing more than a comedy show. The truth is, not many people believe him. More and more people are tuning in to Jon Stewart. A 2004 Pew Research study found that 21 per cent of young people between 18 and 29 get their news from The Daily Show rather than any other newscast.

During the May 23, 2006 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly attributed the political ignorance of many young people
to them getting their news from Jon Stewart. However, nonpartisan studies conducted by Pew Research (2007), Indiana University (2006), and the National Annenberg Election Survey (2004) all show that viewers of The Daily Show are better informed about current events and campaign issues than viewers of other news media. In a press release Annenberg senior analyst Dannagal Goldthwaite Young elaborated on the statistics: "Daily Show viewers have higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers -- even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age, and gender are taken into consideration."




When it comes to The Daily Show, without knowing that it was on the Comedy Central network or knowing anything about the show itself, the average viewer might think The Daily Show is just like any other news show. Of course, the viewer would quickly realize from Jon Stewart’s quick humor that The Daily Show is quite different. When the show first starts, the opening always shows a rotating globe and the viewer sees the words “New York, London, Hong Kong” on the globe. Viewers hear music like you hear on any prime time news show. Then we hear the deep, serious voice of the announcer stating, "from Comedy Central word news headquarters in New York." The globe lets the viewer know that this is a world news show. When watching a traditional network show, we tend to think that the anchors are going to be serious. Just by the set and colors in the background, we expect our news to be delivered in a solemn manner. As far as colors go, we notice a predominant red and blue patriotic theme throughout. This could be done to suggest a political angle. For instance, red is the color for Republicans and blue is the color for Democrats. Since The Daily Show has a lot of stories dealing with politics, this makes sense. Another reason why the set could be red and blue is to suggest the reliability of the show. For instance, most networks use red and/or blue in their sets. If one was to create a news show, one would make the set look similar so that it appears trustworthy to the viewers. Then we cut to the studio which looks like any other news set. Here the similarities end; we now hear upbeat music and the laughter of a studio audience.

This shot represents a visual that could be from any standard news show.

Of course, The Daily Show is supposed to be a “fake news” program. However, more and more viewers are turning to Jon Stewart for their news, so maybe the colors in the set succeed better at gaining viewers than people think. As far as the anchor himself, Jon Stewart is dressed professionally. He always wears a suit and tie and he begins the show with blue papers on his desk. Again, this is similar to other network shows. Anchors always wear professional clothing and have papers on their desk. Despite the fact that this show’s stories are all about humor, the look of the set and the anchor himself suggest otherwise. This could be done to gain more viewers and to make people think Jon Stewart is trustworthy despite his humor.

Throughout the show, there are graphics that pop up on the screen next to Stewart. For example, in the picture below, there appears to be blood coming out of his ears. Of course, this would not happen on a regular network show. These humorous graphics are designed to let the audience know that Stewart is not being serious. Even if one couldn’t tell from Jon Stewart’s facial expressions and the delivery of the material, one could still be amused by these graphics. This is done for entertainment purposes; after all, when we watch television, what’s better than being informed and entertained at the same time? Sometimes the graphics are not done for amusement; they can be done simply to illustrate what Jon Stewart is talking about at the time.


Another device that The Daily Show uses is the title of their stories. For instance, on the October 14th, 2009 episode, they ran a story called "Al Franken Rape Nuts". On the October 29th, 2009 episode, The Daily Show ran a story called “For Fox Sake!”, which is about Fox News defending themselves from an attack by the Obama administration. Another witty story title is from the episode that most recently aired on November 9th, 2009 called “The Men Who Stare at Votes”, which is a play on words from the new movie The Men Who Stare at Goats; it was about the House of Representatives passing health care reform after exciting pre-game festivities. All of these quirky story titles show that the Daily Show always intends to put a humorous spin on real news.

The structure of the show begins with Jon Stewart writing on his papers and delivering a monologue, which is similar to a monologue on a late night comedy show. It consists of Stewart commenting on real stories, which lends the show its reliability. Sometimes he uses correspondents who also use humor in the stories. Again, the correspondents help give the impression that the show is trustworthy when it comes to delivering news. After the opening monologue, Stewart introduces his guests and they usually are on for about five to maybe ten minutes. Then the show ends with what Stewart calls “a moment of zen”, which is usually a humorous clip that can be anything.

Overall, the visual graphics, the clever story titles, the clothing of the cast and the guests on the show, and the structure of the show itself all add up to a show that mixes real news with fantasy and humor while entertaining their viewers.


Like other television news shows, The Daily Show uses video from press conferences and news events for their stories. Unlike other television news shows, The Daily Show also uses video from You Tube and other news sites, for example; CNN, Fox News, and CSPAN. These clips are used to bring news stories to light that have not made the Prime Time newscasts on ABC, NBC, CBS, or CNN or to expand upon coverage of these news stories on national and international issues. The Daily Show also uses strings of video from several sources to create "news" stories which sometimes make these reports part of the news. As noted in the section above, The Daily Show is influenced by television news. It is also important to note the influence that The Daily Show has had on television news as well. In this section we will look at the influences The Daily Show has had on television news and how it uses various video clips to enhance news stories.

Al Franken Rape Nuts On The Daily Show

On the October 14, 2009 episode, The Daily Show ran a story on a bill sponsored by Senator Al Franken making it illegal for government contractors to have their employees sign clauses stating they will not sue fellow employees if they are raped by these fellow employees. Stewart uses the term that this bill would seem a "slam dunk" to pass. Using video clips from several news shows that are not on network television, The Daily Show ran a story which is known as "Al Franken Rape Nuts." This report was made of video clips from other news organizations about this bill and from speeches given by lawmakers about this bill. After the story ran it was then picked up by other news organizations and editorials on this issue were posted online. These articles discuss The Daily Show "Al Franken Rape Nuts" piece from Broadsheet on Salon.com , October 15th Huffington Post and The Minnesota Independent all chimed in on the piece as did several other news blogs and newspapers around the country.

Daily Show: Rape Nuts - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

CNN And Texting While Driving

On October 2, 2009, The Daily Show did a piece on CNN's reporting on cell phones, Iphone Apps and driving. Stewart was commenting on two stories that ran on CNN on consecutive mornings and how it seemed that in one story CNN was saying it is bad to text and drive and in another story CNN was advocating the use of an Iphone App to use while driving. After the story aired, CNN commented on The Daily Show piece. The two CNN morning anchors stated this about Jon Stewart, "he got us". Here's the story that CNN ran which includes the segment that was on the Daily Show. As you can see, The Daily Show's influence is such that , CNN felt compelled to comment on it and to set the story straight.

ABC World News Tonight October 20, 2009

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then The Daily Show should count themselves flattered. On October 20, 2009 ABC World News Tonight ran a story on a fake news conference that was held by a group of people claiming to be with the US Chamber of Commerce and how this story was reported by other news organizations as factual. In running this story, ABC used video from Fox News and CNBC, both stations ran the story as true and then retracted, once it became evident the story was bogus. ABC was only too happy to show clips of these news organizations running the story and then retracting the story through video clips. This is a page right out of The Daily Show. You can see by looking at this video that The Daily Show is influencing other news shows. ABC News was just missing the humor that you would get from The Daily Show.


Election November 2009 All The News That's Fit To Be Exaggerated

The Daily Show is only too happy to point out when other news shows are trying to make news when there isn't much of a story. Take for example, the coverage of the November 2009 election. Nationally, there were two governor races and one congressional race that were being held. Based upon the video clips it seems, as Stewart says, that the winners were winners and the losers were winners. The news pundits for the other networks were only too happy to make this an issue about Obama's popularity, as Jon Stewart was only too happy too point out by showing video clips from these other news shows. Take a look at this video which ran on November 5th.

Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer of CNBC Showdown

On March 4, 2009, The Daily Show ran a scathing story on CNBC, the cable business channel. The story ran after Rick Santelli of CNBC cancelled his visit to be on the show. Pulling videos from various CNBC shows, a story ran that was over 8 minutes. The video clips in the report show CNBC personalities talking about how the decline in the stock market was temporary and other stances on business issues which proved to be incorrect. After these video clips were shown, a slide came up showing the drop in the stock market at a regular rate. The Daily Show story on CNBC also showed CNBC reporters interviewing CEO's of various companies and instead of asking them the tough questions, the reporters asked such questions as "how does it feel to be a billionaire?" Please note that Jon Stewart stated that the report was prepared for Santelli's guest spot on the show and was still shown even though he cancelled the visit. It was not shown because Santelli cancelled his appearance.

After this first story ran on March 4th, this became big news. The story that was reported on the other television news stations and in print and on internet outlets was the story of the feud between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer. The Daily Show followed up the March 4th report on Jim Cramer and CNBC with additional reports, complete with CNBC videos, of Jim Cramer on March 9th and on March 10th. The coup de grace of the report on CNBC was when Jim Cramer appeared in person on The Daily Show on March 12, 2009. This is a case where a report that was run on The Daily Show became big news and Jon Stewart became part of the story. To get a better idea of how big this story was, just take a look at the Wikipedia page that was created titled Jon Stewart's 2009 Criticism of CNBC. There are 50 references listed for this Wikipedia page with links to all of these references. If you want more information you can just google Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer.

Please take a look at the following clips showing the history of The Daily Show - CNBC feud, but the actual Daily Show interview with Jim Cramer that aired on March 12, 2009 is under the content analysis section.

Mar 4 2009 Daily Show story on CNBC

Mar 9 2009 Daily Show story In Cramer We Trust

Mar 10 2009 Daily Show story Basic Cable Personality Clash Skirmish '09

Mar 11 2009 Daily Show story Jim Cramer Battle


Most episodes of The Daily Show are divided into three segments: The satire news update, the parody news report, and the studio interview. Throughout all three segments of the show, Jon Stewart and team break many of the official and unofficial rules of journalism. Even while Stewart makes no attempt to hide his own opinions or disguise his personal agenda, he still entertains arguments for opposing viewpoints and acknowledges the problematic aspects of his own views. He primarily does this through satire. According to Geoffrey Baym, the show is "dialogic in the Bakhtinian sense, [playing] multiple voices against each other in a discursive exchange that forces the original statement into revealing contexts” (266). He continues by writing that satire "represents a searching for truth through the process of dialogical interaction. Unlike traditional news, which claims an epistemological certainty, satire is a discourse of inquiry, a rhetoric of challenge that seeks through the asking of unanswered questions to clarify the underlying morality of a situation" (267). Through satire and the juxtaposition of contradictory messages, often by the same person, Jon Stewart encourages his audience to critically analyze popular media channels and resist the impulse to blindly accept the messages they encounter .

The Satire News Update

In the opening segment, the satire news update, Jon Stewart defies many of the unwritten rules of journalism. The traditional news media relies on sound bites, and Stewart employs his own version of the sound bite, revealing how the various media outlets use them in order to create a news story. This can be seen in the following montage of the media's coverage of the White House's "War on Fox News."

Stewart also departs from conventional journalism by covering events on CSPAN that would normally be considered insignificant or too mundane for the major news stations. Such is the case in the following clip of the November 5, 2009 episode when Stewart shows and mocks the responses made by U.S. Representatives to the Health Care Reform Bill. By showing some of the more ridiculous complaints against the bill, Stewart advances his own views regarding health care reform.

Stewart then shows that his researchers are also adept at selective editing and reporting when he shows the following montage of clips mentioning the size of the Health Care Reform Bill. By introducing the segment in a way that encourages the audience to expect an in depth analysis of the bill's faults, Stewart uses humor to make the bill's opponents look ridiculous.

Despite criticisms to the contrary, Jon Stewart does mock, or at least show his frustration with, those with whom he agrees. This can be seen in the following video clip. When Campbell Brown asks a White House spokesperson about the recent conflict with Fox News, Stewart shows his desire for an articulate and honest response. When the White House response does not satisfy, Stewart does not let them off the hook.

The Parody News Report

The second segment of The Daily Show features news team "correspondents" who either report on a subject from the studio or from a field location. Historically the field location reports have been shot in studio in front of a green screen, but true "on location" reports are becoming more common. For example, Rob Riggle traveled to China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Jason Jones traveled to Iran for the elections in June 2009. These correspondent reports can range from Afghanistan to tailgating and from the silly to the downright absurd. According to Geoffrey Baym, The Daily Show parody news reports "may generate a laugh, but their deeper thrust is subversion, an attack on the conventions and pretensions of television news" (269). This can be seen in the following video from November 3, 2009 in which John Oliver, Samantha Bee, and Aasif Mandvi discuss how they will report on the upcoming election results. They, consequently, deconstruct conventional news reports by revealing the true meaning of the nonverbal communication strategies used in journalism.

The Studio Interview

The third and most serious segment of the show is Jon Stewart's studio interview. Guests range from celebrities to politicians and often include authors promoting books in the social sciences. Although this segment does include humor, the goal appears to be thoughtful discussion. Stewart never hides his own political preferences, but he doesn't seek to humiliate his guests either. He treats all of his guests with respect even though some have been regular objects of satire in the previous segments. One example of this is Stewart's interview with Rod Blagojevich (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Although he had previously used an inhaler to help him pronounce the former Illinois governor's name and he had shown clips of Blagojevich doing Elvis impersonations for money, Stewart remained respectful during the interview while still asking the tough questions.

One of the most heated interviews was the March 12, 2009 interview with Jim Cramer (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) from CNBC. After a week-long "feud" Stewart hammered Cramer with questions regarding his role in the recent economic crisis. Stewart came armed with clips from Cramer's past shows and interviews and was quick to play them whenever Cramer contradicted himself. This has quickly come to be known as Stewart's hardest-hitting interview since his notorious 2004 interview of Crossfire.

The following clip shows how Stewart handles a heckler during an interview with the Palestinian Democratic Leader.


During the course of blazing new trails of political and newscast parodies, John Stewart and The Daily Show have seemed to unintentionally blur the lines between sarcasm and political journalism. There have been other parodies of news programs in the past (Not Necessarily the News, Saturday Night Live's Weekend Report), but none have been as effective in public discourse when it comes to political decisions.

In Bill Moyer's interview with Stewart in 2003, Moyers calls Stewart a "distiguished commentator and anchorman" and lumps The Daily Show's influence and importance with the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and the Kennedy-Nixon Debates. Bill Moyer also touts The Daily Show as a "new form of journalism" citing that when he reports the news the audience "thinks he made it up", and when The Daily Show makes up the news the audience thinks "they are telling the truth." While Jon Stewart is passionate about politics and makes up jokes about things he cares about, he, with what some might perceive as a false sense of humility, does not understand the stirring of reactions his "little show" causes. But a stir it most definitely does make.

In October of 2005, the producers of the CNN political debate show, Crossfire, decided to see what all of the fuss over The Daily Show was about, and invited Jon Stewart to a lively debate about his role in news media coverage. As seen in the video, they did not expect this comedian to be so articulate in his attack on the media in general and Crossfire specifically. While barbs were exchanged and feelings may have been hurt (read: Tucker Carlson), Jon Stewart steadfastly maintained his stance as an entertainer claiming that his show is on a comedy channel and “the show that leads in to me is puppets making crank phone calls”. The result of this interview showed the hosts firsthand the power and influence of a comedy show. Crossfire was canceled two months following the live broadcast with Stewart.

This may seem like a coincidence and most people would maintain that Crossfire had had a long enough run, but the president of CNN, Jonathan Klein, “specifically cited the criticism…Jon Stewart leveled…when he was a guest on the program…” as the reason for its cancellation. It seems that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show do have some modicum of political influence in modern media and they certainly have the niche filled with insightful views and funny takes on the goings on in America. The world is watching.

Complete //Crossfire// Interview


The Daily Show is a fantastic way to teach about genre, audience, and news media. In the frame of writing for audience, and paying attention to who will be reading or listening to what is being written, comparing the audience of The Daily Show to an actual news show to discuss differences in expectation and demographic when selecting an audience would be effective. In teaching the Multi-genre research paper, for instance, it would certainly be plausible to consider using clips of The Daily Show versus CNN to give students an idea on how their audience changes when the subject or style changes in writing.

The below videos are just an example on how two different types of news media will alter presentation based upon audience. The teacher would show these videos consecutively to students and have them observe some of the differences in attitude, style, and explanation provided and discuss the importance of audience awareness in writing and communicating ideas. The class would watch the CNN video first, then following the link to the Daily Show version to observe how the latter interpreted this information differently.

The Daily Show: Indecision 2009

It would also be useful to consider the use of sharing this show when teaching about bias and propaganda usage. Because, as the Baym article mentioned, news media is constrained to a prescribed method of sharing information, this would be an excellent opportunity to explore with students how different incentives and interests can influence the information the audience is provided in a news story. This application would be particularly valuable when introducing context and how an exploration of what is/was going on in the background has influenced how and why this was presented and/or written.

Lastly, anytime we use something that has the potential to be amusing as well as educational, we gain the upper hand in understanding from students. Something like this well-known news-parody show is sure to be a hit with students and if you can have them learning simultaneously, it will certainly be a success. Also, as implementing various methods to provide a wealth of perspectives on a given topic of teaching is generally effective, by teaching audience and context, the teacher defines what that is, gains feedback from students, then show them actual examples from real world sources, and gains feed back again to gain a wealth more of understanding than they would have had the real world example not been given.

With that said, as The Daily Show maintains that they're not to be taken seriously, it is easy to imagine how they would scoff at this educational application. No matter though, it's still applicable, no matter what they say.

For more ideas regarding using The Daily Show in the classroom, see the attached article "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Part 2" by James Trier.