Monday, August 18, 2008

Colbert Report Viewers Are Slightly More Politically Knowledgeable Than Daily Show's

There are so many headlines I could have given this post, but from past experience if you put “The Daily Show” into a your blog you will get hits. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released its biannually media consumption survey. There’s a lot of interesting nuggets of data in it. (I promise I will get to the part about The Daily Show in a minute).

First off, ask yourself, without using google, can you:

  1. Can you tell me the name of the current U.S. Secretary of State?

  2. Say who is the current prime minister of Great Britain?
    a. Gordon Brown
    b. Rupert Murdoch
    c. Robert Gates
    d. John Howard

  3. Happen to know which political party has a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives?
If you can answer all three correctly, then you are identified by Pew as having a high knowledge score of political information. Frankly on number two I’m surprised they didn’t throw in Tony Blair as a choice.

So want to know how well the public answered those questions? Only 18% could correctly answer all three. That was the national average. Pew then breaks it down by viewers of certain shows.

You can see the full chart here but (to justify using the title on this post):
The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are notable for having relatively well-informed audiences that are younger than the national average: 34% of regular Colbert viewers answered the three political knowledge questions correctly, as did 30% of regular Daily Show viewers. Less than a quarter of either audience is older than 50 (22% Colbert, 23% Daily Show), compared with 41% of the general public.
I’ve often thought The Colbert Report is a tad more cerebral than The Daily Show. (Oh and the other late-night comics Leno/Letterman, only 20% of their audience could answer all three correctly.)

But in any case there’s a lot of other interesting data. I’m very surprised about the breakdown of audiences by gender. (Plus I’m always curious if Nielsen gets the same ratios of male verses female viewership).

There is exactly even split between men and women in reading daily newspapers, watching CNN, news magazines (like Time and Newsweek) and even the Sunday News Talk shows. Surprisingly slightly more women than men watch Fox News. (Also MSNBC, and CNBC???)

But there are a number of shows and types of shows that are majority male. Rush Limbaugh, the ratio wasn’t even close, 72% of his audience is male. Ladies favor Colbert over Stewart by four percentage points. The Daily Show audience is 66% male and The Colbert Report is 62%.

I don’t have an answer why The Daily Show skews so heavily male but perhaps their lack of female correspondents could be an answer. Also Jon can sometimes get a little frat-boyish when talking about women politicians like Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. I have also heard, through a grapevine that his writing room is way more machismo than Colbert’s. It’s not quite Saturday Night Live, but that’s kind of flavor (meaning if you’re not a white dude who fits in, you don’t fit in.) Stephen Colbert seems to run a slightly different type of room and has more women writers.


habladora said...

Really, only 18% could answer all three questions? Who are they asking? Really, you have a much deeper understanding of how these polls and ratings are determined - how does this work?

Cheri said...

I don't know how much I would read into those four percentage points, in either case. And doesn't Comedy Central in general skew more male than female?

Also, you should post the answers because I'm too lazy to look them up (actually, my reception blows tonight), and even though I'm pretty sure I got them all right, I want to be certain of my gold star.

NewsCat said...

Okay, the answers are
1. Condeleeza Rice
2. Gordon Brown
3. The Democrats control the House (and Senate too).

I'm going to post a little more about the study.

Anonymous said...

Colbert only has one woman writer at a time. For a brief moment they had two, but one left and they hired a man. He just wants to make it look like he's not a chauvinist.

NewsCat said...

That's very interesting Anonymous. I knew someone who knew one of the women writers (don't know if its the one who left).

I don't know what kind of writing room Colbert runs. I'd heard it was better than Stewart's, but that was also more in 2006, not currently. In fact as much as I love Stewart, he's no better than Jimmy Kimmel or Jay Leno or David Letterman in terms of having a view that is anything other than white/male in the writing room. You're basic frat boy perspective (even if no frat would have had them...they're still all insecure little boys). TDS was practically forced to hire Larry Wilmore (who was way more established then any of his other writers). That they still haven't found another regular woman correspondent besides Samantha Bee grates. They even gave Wyatt Cenac a chance and he's young and green.