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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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John Stewart contributing to voter apathy

John Stewart, host of the popular Comedy Central program “The Daily Show,” made an announcement last week that is sure to get college students excited.

He has decided he will travel to Ohio this fall on a pre-election road trip which will seek to answer the question: What’s a buckeye?

“Battlefield Ohio: The Daily Show’s Midwest Midterm Spectacular,” will air a week before the crucial Nov. 7 national election, and will take place at Ohio State University’s Roy Bowen Theatre. In a statement this week, Comedy Central claims the program will “give viewers a unique perspective that only a true outsider can provide.”

Unfortunately, this purported “unique perspective” will probably end up making college students more apathetic than enthusiastic about the upcoming midterm elections and will undoubtedly prove to be nothing more than a vehicle of degradation, emasculating students views of the political process.

According to East Carolina University professors Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan Morris, viewers of “The Daily Show,” composed mostly of college students, tend to be cynical about individual candidates, the electoral process and the media. They also found that while watching the program enhanced students’ confidence about their political knowledge, it also increased their cynicism toward politics and news media in general.

And now that Stewart is coming to Ohio to offer up more of these “unique perspectives,” we will probably see an adverse effect in overall turnout among college-age individuals here in our beloved state. It’s really a shame, because the veracity of an election suffers when young constituents do not participate.

After all, the same thing happened during the 2004 presidential election campaign when, according to Baumgartner and Morris, college-age participants were more likely to have negative perceptions about both parties’ candidates after being exposed to Stewart’s unique blend of satire, resulting in a low turnout at the polls.

This is disappointing in light of the fact that the upcoming election is extremely important for Ohioans. Several House seats, a crucial Senate position and a new Governor all hang in the balance. In fact, most experts are predicting the outcome of the 2008 presidential election could come down to what happens in this year’s Ohio midterm.

College students could make a huge contribution to this process if they honestly cared, but sadly very few do.

Is it all because of John Stewart?

I doubt it, but there is no question that he is a contributing factor to this despondency. Many students undoubtedly are indoctrinated into negativity by the wry opining of “The Daily Show.”

Of course, none of this seems to matter to John Stewart whose program proudly boasts one of the most deluded, apathetic audiences in all of television.

Now I want to be clear: “The Daily Show” is without question an extremely unabashed, perceptive program. The dry, sarcastic, nonchalant satire Stewart employs every night offers up a refreshing alternative to the mundane and depressing events exhibited on most news channels. Without question, Stewart is one of the most humorous and entertaining personalities in all of television.

But the key word here is “entertaining.” Stewart, though a savvy and astute political satirist, is not exactly the best source to turn to when you want a fair and balanced viewpoint on the day’s news.

When I want to hear a good fart joke, he’s my guy; but if I am looking for unbiased, factual reporting, his show is not exactly the best source of information.

John Stewart is ultimately nothing more than a gifted entertainer; but do college students, who represent a plurality of his viewership, really understand this simple truth when they formulate their political views?

According to Baumgartner and Morris’ study, they do not.

Fellow students, it’s time to wake up. If you really want to make a difference in these crucial upcoming elections, you need to watch programs like “The Daily Show” for a good laugh and not as a source for news.

Instead, go to a real news program for dinner and make Stewart’s show your dessert, and in this way you will get a true perspective on politics. If you already do this, pat yourself on the back. If not, it’s never too late to start.

Send comments to Dan Lipian at

[email protected].

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