The Pundit Effect
Introduction of Satirical News
It would not be a real blog about pundit shows unless it mentioned Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation (Fox). Fox News, and other media corporations, are very powerful and have a real influence on the population. A study found “a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News.”
The level of power and influence over the news world is clear when examining what the media companies allow to be shown and what they will not allow. All of News Corporation companies ignored the Rupert Murdoch scandal, which would have been significant news on Fox, if Rupert Murdoch did not own Fox.
The world of pundits is filled with people that range from the well-educated, like Paul Krugman, to winners of beauty pageants, like Sarah Palin. Some pundits embellish the truth in order to get a larger fan base, and consequently, higher earning potential.
As Sean Wilentz in The New Yorker says, “Glenn Beck is trying to give [viewers] a version of American history that is supposedly hidden… It’s a version of history that is beyond skewed.” In a similar instance, O’Reily, according to Hart on FAIR blog, misinterpreted the Wall Street Journal editorial in order to further his point. In the end, show hosts do not have the final say and it would be under the jurisdiction of the owners of the company.
Not all of the pundits are professional political analysts and many of them are self-reflexive of that. As Glenn Beck puts it, “I’m a rodeo clown… ‘if you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.” It is good to know that some pundits realize that they are more of a celebrity and entertainer than an expert political advisor, but the question is does the audience know this?
To illustrate the point, according to a study done by Ohio State University, the Colbert Report has room for different interpretations. When conservatives were polled, they found that they tend to think that Colbert just “pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said,” whereas liberals believe it is “satire and not serious.” This is interesting considering Colbert’s openness about being a Democrat and his previous encounters with the government, as shown in the video below.
Colbert was also invited to speak at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Surely the President knew Colbert was a Democrat, but some of the uncomfortable awkward moments in the video raise speculation.
The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are often written off as just comedy and not real news, but according to this study , “The amount of substantive information in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the broadcast network newscasts was the same.” This study must hold somewhat true with the Colbert Report, considering The Daily Show is the parent of the Colbert Report.
Colbert’s show-format is perfectly set-up to include both political parties, and consequently get the most viewers and advertisers’ interest possible. Colbert’s style allows for him to be more transparent than some of his counter-parts. When it comes to advertising, Colbert will sometimes announce who he is sponsored by. This was true with the Radiohead Dr. Pepper advertisement and also in a more recent episode with Taco Bell.