As Tina Fey soars, Sarah Palin struggles

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Political scientists have even come up with a name for the modern collision of high politics and popular entertainment. The “Daily Show effect,” named for the Comedy Central mock cable news program, is said to leave voters more cynical about candidates and campaigns compared to voters who rely on more traditional, less snarky news outlets.

In a 2006 article for the journal “American Political Research,” East Carolina University political scientists Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris found that regular “Daily Show” viewers “exhibit more cynicism toward the electoral system and the news media at large.”

While increasing popular awareness of political issues, “our findings indicate that ‘The Daily Show’ may have more detrimental effects, driving down support for political institutions and leaders among those already inclined toward nonparticipation,” they wrote.

“It used to be that prospective politicians chose law school as the first step in their career path,” wrote John Feffer in analysis of the rising role of comedians in modern media politics. “Future politicians may skip law school altogether and try out for the ‘Saturday Night Live’ team instead.”

About the Author
David R. Sands

David R. Sands

Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.

At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...

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