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The President’s Appearance on The Daily Show: The Impact of Jon Stewart’s Hostile Humor and Obama’s Self-Effacing Manner

Last night President Obama appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, receiving mixed reviews from commentators as the President sought to speak directly to an important Democratic base of young viewers. Stewart probed Obama with hard questions while Obama attempted to appear humble and self-effacing, acknowledging Stewart’s questions as reasonable and legitimate.  

At one point, Obama blundered by saying Larry Summers had done a “heckuva job,” drawing immediate memories of George Bush’s initial praise of FEMA head Michael Brown. Stewart immediately quipped: “You don’t want to use that phrase, dude.” 

Later Stewart chuckled when Obama defended his campaign slogan by arguing  “Yes we can, but,” it will take some time to achieve change.  You can watch a clip from Obama’s performance below.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c Barack Obama Pt.

Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

In a seminar presentation at American University last week, Towson University professor Amy Becker discussed her research on the effects of candidate appearances–and the hostile humor directed their way–at programs such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

In experimental studies with students at the University of Wisconsin and Louisiana State University, Becker finds that self-effacing humor on the part of a candidate when appearing at a program such as the Daily Show can engender positive feelings among viewers, but hostile humor directed at the candidate by hosts such as Stewart or Stephen Colbert has an even greater potential for negative impact.  In fact, Becker finds that hostile directed humor tends to be more damaging than if young voters were to view negative attack ads aimed at the candidate.

See also:

Is America a Joke? Researcher Examines The DailyShow‘s Impact on Political Culture

Distraction or Engagement? Researcher On What Viewers Learn from The DailyShow

The DailyShow: The Best Place for Engaging Wider Audiences on Science?

Lessons for Science? AU Colleague Studies Impact of Late Night Comedy on Viewers’ Engagement with Politics

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