The value of “fake” news

So let’s say that the average news program is like your run of the mill chain restaurant. Anderson Cooper 360, CSPAN, and the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer would be the equivalent of Chili’s, Applebee’s, and Red Lobster. Like the news, the food is the same with some minor variations here and there. Now, enter The Daily Show and other forms of “fake” news. Unique and entertaining, these compare to the quintessential, funky diner scene: the kind of places that you frequent half for the food, half for the entertainment factor. The menu is unpredictable, and the atmosphere is eclectic and amusing.

The Daily Show, like the diner scenario, entertains and presents the news – granted with a specific spin.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is like a sieve. Usually, it gleans from the segments that appear on all the major news networks, sorts through the funny bits, and presents what it feels is the crŠme of the crop.

For instance, The Daily Show’s reporting of strategic options in Afghanistan exemplifies their distinctive approach to news coverage.

After addressing Iraq as the forgotten child, the reporter “in the field” suggested, like all the other news stations, that troop resurgence was one of the best options in the strategic approach to Afghanistan. The second feasible option was to not do anything, and hope Jon and Kate get back together to divert public attention and keep the physical and emotional burden off families of soldiers.

The Daily Show presents serious issues in national and international news, but then proffers a light, comedic touch.

Due to the immense popularity of The Daily Show, some have begun to question the value of the Comedy Central hit. Accusations of liberally slanting the news, disrespectful allegations towards politicians, and cheapening the integrity of serious topics are consistent sources of contention.

To all of those who agree, take a closer look. There is a reason that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both air on Comedy Central. Here’s a hint: the hosts are comedians. It is their jobs to be funny and make the ordinary hilarious.

The guests who appear on the show are oftentimes serious politicians or players in the world of news and journalism. Guests include authors, activists, musicians, and journalists all of whom add credibility and spice to the show.

To add to the show’s credibility, The Daily Show does not disrespect severe news topics. If nothing else it enhances our awareness of pertinent national and international issues by comically presenting perspectives that mainstream media exclude.

Case in point, The Daily Show’s recession coverage included a fake segment in which rapper, Slim Thug, adjusts to the economic downturn.

The video reveals how Slim Thug adopted a more economical attitude to coping with his personal financial crisis. Shots of dancing girls holding W-4 forms and clipping coupons coalesce with a Costco logo and a “Cash for Chromes” shout-out. Hilarity ensues, but the driving point remains clear: the economic downturn affects all of us.

The news can be funny. Embrace it, love it, acknowledge, because it’s out there. Spiders crawling on popes, Glenn Beck’s Kermit the Frog voice, and so much more. Watch and enjoy, because there’s more to come.