(Photo courtesy of espensorvik on Flickr under CC license)
(Photo courtesy of espensorvik on Flickr under CC license)

By STEPHANIE COSBY, Staff Columnist

Between work, classes and extra activities, I don’t have a whole lot of time to watch TV. Regardless of what’s going on during the week though, I try to park myself in front of a television by 11pm Monday through Thursday so I can catch the new episodes of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

While most people get this or just don’t care, there’s ALWAYS at least one person around when I share this information who raises his or her eyebrows in disbelief/disdain and sees fit to inform me that “that’s not real news.” Oh, really? I had no idea (facepalm).

I am aware that these programs aren’t “real news”; they’re satire. I find, however, that these shows tend to be more insightful than 90% of the “real news” shows.

I follow a variety of local and national networks, newspapers and websites to get a fuller picture of what’s going on in the world. While casting this wide net usually does the trick to feed my news need, I often find myself scratching my head and wondering where the questioning and critical analysis is, especially around election time.

Take the presidential debates: Before, during and after each debate, the news revolved around how the candidates looked and sounded, how the undecided voters reacted, how it affected the polls, who lied and how often, and (my personal favorite) who won the debate. Who won? I was under the impression that that was what the election was for, but maybe I’m wrong.

Where is the critical analysis of what the candidates said, and just as important, what they didn’t say? Why isn’t anyone talking about how crazy it is that candidates can lie on the national stage and get away with it as long as they looked and sounded presidential? Why doesn’t anyone seem to be holding these guys accountable for what they say? This is where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert come in.

Stewart and Colbert both address the hypocrisy, frequently shallow analysis and spin put forth by politicians and the mainstream media. They poke fun at the hyperbole and just plain stupid remarks made by politicians.

They help me think more critically about today’s issues and they make me laugh, both of which I think are very important. Hey- in a world where “binders full of women” and “legitimate rape” are acceptable phrases to use in national conversation, it feels good to be able to laugh at the BS sometimes.

While the two are often lumped together because they are both do satire, they have different methods for making their points. Jon Stewart picks apart the news and addresses each point one by one while Colbert parodies it with his larger than life conservative character.

After Romney’s 47% remarks went public, for example, Stewart debuted his segment “Chaos on Bullshit Mountain” that looked at the 47% video, addressed Romney’s false and callous claims (I get that not everyone views them as such, but that was my take), and poked fun at the ensuing shitstorm on Fox News in which they claimed Romney’s comments were smart. Colbert, on the other hand, dressed up in a suit complete with coattails and a top hat to throw shrimp to “poor people” while agreeing with the 47% claims.

So, yes. I understand that the Daily Show and Colbert are not “real news”. I believe, however, that their satire offers the insight and clever critique that is often missing from mainstream media. Through analysis and laughter, they help me cut through the crap.