Richard Morin Cherry Picks Research on the Daily Show
by Matt Stoller, Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 12:58:49 PM EDT
I keep finding more problems with what Richard Morin wrote on Friday about youth and voting. I assumed there were some logical problems with his analysis, but now it looks like Morin actually misrepresented the study he cited. Newscorpse has a great post to that effect. To flesh this out a bit more, here's what Morin highlighted about the study:
Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart's faux news program, "The Daily Show," develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting.
This is a woefully misleading representation of the study (located here). First of all, the authors of the study concluded that we don't know what the effect of the Daily Show is on voting patterns. They mused that it could be positive, or it could be negative. And indeed, turnout among youth actually went way up in 2004, increasing more than among any other age group. But here's something else the authors of the study wrote that Morin does not mention in his column.
The results indicate that the effect on internal efficacy is positive for The Daily Show and suggests that even though The Daily Show generates cynicism toward the media and the electoral process, it simultaneously makes young viewers more confident about their own ability to understand politics.
According to the study, the Daily Show was the only show that increased skepticism about the media. Morin also didn't mention this.
Relatedly, we found that exposure to The Daily Show increased internal efficacy by raising viewers' perception that the complex world of politics was understandable. Stewart's style of humor paints the complexities of politics as a function of the absurdity and incompetence of political elites, thus leading viewers to blame any lack of understanding not on themselves but on those who run the system.
I wonder why Morin doesn't give readers an accurate reading of the study, citing only the parts that confirm his bias against those who puncture the prestige of political coverage. I suppose it's because the media and political elites are used to cherry picking evidence.
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