This article examines media coverage of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report in the New York Times and Washington Post. Although there is significant public and scholarly interest in these political comedy programs, little is known about what kind of influence these new media genres are having in the public sphere. Examining the different narratives that are used to report about these programs, we find four distinct types of commentary: (1) discussions about the audience for the programs, (2) narratives that treat the programs as just another official source; (3) narratives that explore the larger climate of political discourse; and (4) narratives about journalism itself. Although most of the articles about The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are positive, they do not offer a significant challenge to the semiotic distinction between news and entertainment. Furthermore, when there are criticisms of journalism, they consistently limit themselves to the symbolic pollution of television journalism. These findings suggest that the transgressive impact of new media formats is constrained by the durable power of collective meaning structures and cultural hierarchies.
American Journal of Cultural Sociology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 12, 2013