This study out of the esteemed University of East Carolina, purporting to document the deleterious effects of the Daily Show, is hopelessly speculative academic gasbaggery:
If young Americans learn about [presidential] candidates via Jon Stewart, it is possible that unfavorable perception of both parties —nominees could form. This would have the effect of lowering trust in national leaders.... Ultimately, negative perceptions of candidates could have participation implications by keeping more youth from the polls.
I've got no patience for this kind of handwringing about "soft" news. The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are two of the sharpest shows in our wasteland of news programming. Are you telling me that our democracy would be stronger if young people were forming their opinions of candidates by watching Rita Cosby Live and Direct? If biting, fact-based satire lowers our trust in our national leaders, isn't that a reflection on the inadequacy of our leaders, rather than the danger of the satire?
(For a taste of the kind of apolitical entertainment co-author Jody Baumgartner would prefer that we enjoy, check out his own creative endeavor: Geeky Stick Boy. Warning: It is possible that an unfavorable impression formed by watching Geeky Stick Boy Episode 5 could have participation implications by deterring you from watching the hilarious antics of Episodes 1 through 4.)