‘Daily Show’ helps, not harms, youth and democracy

North Korea is testing long-range missiles that could theoretically reach California. At least 183 people were killed and 700 were injured in India after seven bombs were set off on busy commuter trains. The tension between Israel and the Palestinians has escalated to the point of all out war – with Lebanon.

This has only been in the past week.

Some would say the news will get you down or make you cynical. Some say comedian Jon Stewart is the culprit.

Two East Carolina University researchers, Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan S. Morris, concluded in a study that young Americans who watch the Daily Show “exhibit more cynicism toward the electoral system and the news media at large.”

Washington Post columnist Richard Morin agrees, and he is not happy.

“This is not funny: Jon Stewart and his hit Comedy Central cable show may be poisoning democracy,” wrote Morin in his June 23 column.

He claims that the show is very popular with college students and that students “already don’t bother to cast ballots.”

Not that being cynical about the electoral system has anything to do with uninvestigated hanging chads and recounts or the questionable veracity of electronic voting machines.

Ironically enough, the same study states that those who watch the show feel an increase of “confidence in their ability to understand the complicated world of politics.”

Stewart’s Daily Show doesn’t only make viewers laugh at the news just when they think they’re going to cry, it also aids in the youth’s understanding of politics in the midst of their disillusionment. Which is more helpful in getting young people to vote: an understanding of the issues at hand or P. Diddy’s oh-so-fashionable “Vote or Die” campaign?

Beyond that, Stewart does not hide his slant as a comedic commentator. The younger generation would much rather listen to someone review the day’s news with honest and blunt wit rather than sit and eat the fear-mongering nonsense spouted by FOX News or any other news medium that is only popular for the ability to make news as sensational as an episode of 24.

If you’re not cynical, outraged or confused, you are simply not paying attention.