Theses Doctoral

Political Satire and Political News: Entertaining, Accidentally Reporting or Both? The Case of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (TDS)

Neacsu, Dana

For the last decade, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (TDS), a (Comedy Central) cable comedy show, has been increasingly seen as an informative, new, even revolutionary, form of journalism. A substantial body of literature appeared, adopting this view. On closer inspection, it became clear that this view was tenable only in specific circumstances. It assumed that the comedic structure of the show, TDS' primary text, promoted cognitive polysemy, a textual ambiguity which encouraged critical inquiry, and that TDS' audiences perceived it accordingly. As a result I analyzed, through a dual - encoding/decoding - analytical approach, whether TDS' comedic discourse educates and informs its audiences in a manner which encourages independent or critical reading of the news. Through a multilayered textual analysis of the primary and tertiary texts of the show, the research presented here asked, "How does TDS' comedic narrative (primary text) work as a vehicle of televised political news?" and "How does TDS' audience decode its text?" The research identified flaws in the existing literature and the limits inherent to any similar endeavors. It became apparent that, due to TDS' comedic discourse and its host's political transparency, the primary text does not promote cognitive polysemy, because it offers one dominant reading that is easily deciphered. Furthermore, due to its specific comedic structure, the primary text does not encourage dissenting or critical reading of the show's presentation of the news. Close reading of specific audience-authored tertiary texts indicated that TDS offered a dominant encoded reading which was either easily accepted or slightly negotiated, according to the views of the news outlet presenting the TDS excerpt.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Diamond Law Library
Thesis Advisors
Pavlik, John V.
Ph.D., Rutgers University
Published Here
October 3, 2011


Ph.D., Rutgers University.