Televised political satire: the new media of political humor and implications for presidential elections



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Shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Saturday Night Live, and even South Park represent an underresearched subfield of discourse about political communication and persuasion. These shows manage to reach audiences not traditionally known for high levels of political engagement and draw them in with their comedic framework. This thesis investigates the impact of televised political satire on public perceptions of presidential candidates and campaign issues and the direct result these impacts may have on presidential elections. This thesis first gives some background in the types of communication and personalities of the front-men and women of these shows and then moves into a historical account of how the exigence for this recent explicit hybridization between comedy and news emerged. It then analyzes how these comedians view their own role within media and politics. It provides a thick account of the liberalizing force televised political satire has been for the American political climate so far, and where it will likely lead us in the near future with the growth of new communication technologies.