The Daily Show: The Power of Satire

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The 21st century marks the crisis of journalism as the rise of social media and the oversaturation of news outlets for consumers has caused a steady decrease in viewership, especially in younger viewers, as well as the inevitable death of the traditional newspaper. According to Geoffrey Baym, the public has become increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of news mediums as the lines between news (public) and business interests are being increasingly blurred. This is due to major news network like NBC, CBS, or ABC turning their news programs into “infotainment”. The emphasis of these news programs are on entertainment rather than reporting on traditional current events and politics. Although traditional journalism is coming to a close, alternative methods of journalism have emerged. One such example is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. While the main objective of the show is to entertain, increasingly more people are gathering their information about current events from satirical news programs like The Daily Show and late-night talk shows. The Daily Show establishes itself as a credible, alternative source of journalism by using satire to question figures of authority, critique current events by use of parody, and create a forum for discussion of subjects related to democracy.
The November 4th, 2013 episode of The Daily Show as a prime example of using satire to interrogate authority figures. The episode begins with Jon Stewart joking about the scandal of Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, using crack while in office. Rob Ford was not present in the Daily Show studio, however Stewart used video clips to question Ford about the scandal. Stewart asks Ford if he would like to make a comment about his use of crack cocaine this past summer. Stewart then transitions to a clip of Ford during a radio interview. Ford stutters for a few seconds until he says, “I’ve made mistakes. Ah ah ah, where do I begin?”. Stewart then proceeds to show more clips of Ford becoming red-faced as he tries to explain his actions of using crack cocaine. This an example of an indirect satirical interrogation of power as Stewart uses clips to make Ford seem like a bumbling buffoon compared to a high-ranking official in the Canadian government.
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