Apparently, Jon Stewart recently appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor, a right-leaning talk show on FOX News. For those of you who don’t know, Stewart’s Jon Stewart Presents Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are more than a bit left leaning, and it airs on a youth-oriented network made famous by crank-calling puppets and talking poop. The Daily Show, though, parodies news programs and nicely straddles the line between serious and silly. He’s had important guests like John Kerry, John McCain, and Bill Clinton wedged between the typical fluff like Will Ferrel and Gwyneth Paltrow.
So you can guess that O’Reilly would give Stewart a hard time, and he did just that by saying it was frightening that Stewart could motivate “stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night” to get out and vote. Here’s an excerpt from the whole interview:
O’REILLY: OK. You know what’s really frightening?
STEWART: Uh oh.
O’REILLY: You know what’s really frightening?
STEWART: You’ve been reading my diary.
O’REILLY: You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary.
STEWART: If that were so, that would be quite frightening.
O’REILLY: But it is. It’s true. I mean, you’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night, OK, and they can vote.
O’REILLY: You can’t stop them.
STEWART: Yeah, I just don’t know how motivated they would be, these stoned slackers.
O’REILLY: Yeah, it just depends if they have to go out that day.
STEWART: What am I, a Cheech and Chong movie? Stoned slackers?
O’REILLY: Come on, you do the research, you know the research on your program.
STEWART: No, we don’t.
O’REILLY: Eighty-seven percent are intoxicated when they watch it. You didn’t see that?
STEWART: No, I didn’t realize that.
So obviously O’Reilly is at least partially joking around, but he goes on to say that he was personally insulted when Kerry went on Stewart’s show instead of his (which really isn’t that big a surprise, since O’Reilly is often hostile to guests who disagree with his politics).
But what’s really funny is that the folks at Comedy Central apparently decided to do some research on O’Reilly’s assumptions, and what they found should have him eating a double helping of crow. An article on Salon.com notes that according to Neilsen Media Research polls, “viewers of The Daily Show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch The O’Reilly Factor.”
Furthermore, another article reported on the findings of the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey:
Viewers of late-night comedy programs, especially The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the cable channel Comedy Central, are more likely to know the issue positions and backgrounds of presidential candidates than people who do not watch late-night comedy.
…When looking at young people who watch The Daily Show, we find they score higher on campaign knowledge than young people who do not watch the show, even when education, following politics, party identification, gender, viewing network news, reading the newspaper, watching cable news and getting campaign information on-line are taken into account.”
The Annenberg survey found that people who watch The Daily Show are more interested in the presidential campaign, more educated, younger, and more liberal than the average American or than Leno or Letterman viewers.
The full article has some other neat findings in it, like content analyses of late-night comedy segments from Leno, Letterman, and Stewart. Interesting stuff.
Anyway, I just love it when blowhards say something just to be inflammatory, only to have it come back and dump a dozen eggs on their face. Also, I love Jon Stewart and want him to have my babies.