Very interesting...early reports of research (http://bigthink.com/ideas/24068) indicate that viewers of the above TV shows are more aware of science and environmental news than viewers of mainstream media. Near the end is this interesting tidbit:
"Another area that is ripe for study is the role of news satire in promoting news media literacy. Arguably, The Daily Show is at its best when it is critiquing the news media. An important question is whether watching the program actually helps make audiences more critical and discerning news consumers, a question that is increasingly relevant given the vast amount of information – much of which is of dubious credibility – that citizens are forced to sift through in our contemporary media environment."
I've argued for this for some time. If I were to teach the freshman experience class again, I would use clips of the Daily Show to teach critical thinking, and particularly use clips critiquing the media.
A friend and I were discussing the other day that the country's in trouble when the person most holding back the barbarism of ignorance and irrationality is a comedian. At the same time, it puts Stewart and Colbert squarely in the tradition of court jesters, who were often the only people who speak truthfully to the king.