A new study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center has revealed that Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report might just be the most powerful news-related program currently on TV. That is, at least for 1,232 people, ages 18 and up, who were contacted for the sake of a study that was called “Stephen Colbert’s Civics Lesson.” I’m starting to think that this might not be the most scientific study ever conceived, but for what was accomplished and the information that was collected, Colbert was indeed the best news educator when it came to helping people better understand the issues.
Freakishly devoted fans of the Report might remember how Colbert created his own Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC SHH, leading up to the 2012 election, with the assistance of his personal attorney and former Federal Election Commission chairman Trevor Potter. The goal was obviously to mock how simple it was for Colbert to set up a shell corporation, which could then funnel all of the anonymous donations back to SHH, but it turns out that it also taught a lot of morons like me how little hope we have for a clean, fair election process.
“It’s the first study actually showing that Colbert is doing a better job than other news sources at teaching people about campaign financing,” said Bruce W. Hardy, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a senior researcher at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania. “Consistently, we found that Colbert did better than every other news source we included in our model.” (Via the APPC, H/T to Deadline)
Those news sources included the usual cable news suspects – Fox News, CNN and MSNBC – as well as network nightly news shows and the talk radio programs. According to my own personal study that I just conducted while you weren’t looking, talk radio programs actually teach more people how to shout fear into the hearts of Americans than any other news sources. As for why Colbert has been so successful, the APPC claims it is because the use of humor helps explain things so we can understand them more easily, while the so-called real news starts with the meat of the story and ignores all of the details leading up to it.
“Colbert did better than any other news source at teaching,” Hardy said. “There were two reasons. First was the narrative structure. He walked us through creating a super PAC and every episode was a continuation of that story. And second was the use of humor and satire.”
Get your educations in while you can, Colbert Nation, because the school closes at the end of 2014.