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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Audience Attitude Change During the 2004 Party Conventions

Abstract

The intention of this analysis is to examine The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s coverage of politics and assess the persuasive power of the program’s unique brand of humor. Evidence from a content analysis of The Daily Show’s “Indecision 2004” coverage of the Democratic and Republican Party Conventions shows the program’s humor was much harsher during the Republican Convention than it was during the Democratic Convention. While the humor in both conventions was heavily based on self-deprecation and the exploitation of conventional political stereotypes, the ridicule of Republicans focused much more on policy and character flaws. Humor pointed toward Democrats, on the other hand, tended to focus more on innocuous physical attributes. Analysis of panel data collected by the National Annenberg Election Survey during the 2004 national party conventions shows that exposure to The Daily Show’s convention coverage was associated with increased negativity toward President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. These relationships remain significant even when controlling for partisan identification and ideology. Attitudes toward the Democratic ticket, John Kerry and John Edwards remained consistent.

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Acknowledgments

This manuscript has benefited greatly from the comments of Jody C Baumgartner, James McCann, Todd Shields, and three anonymous reviewers. The author would like to thank Kara Craig for her valuable research assistance.

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Correspondence to Jonathan S. Morris.

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Morris, J.S. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Audience Attitude Change During the 2004 Party Conventions. Polit Behav 31, 79–102 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-008-9064-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-008-9064-y

Keywords

  • Humor
  • American politics
  • Jon Stewart
  • The Daily Show
  • 2004 party conventions