September 29, 2014 · Posted in: General

‘Fake’ news gets investigative

When Comedy Meets Muckraking:
“Fake” News Gets Investigative

By David Kaplan

NOTE: CAN COMEDY and investigative reporting mix? David Kaplan of the Global Investigative Journalism Network discusses the “fake” TV news programs and asks: could this be the future of muckraking?

YOU’VE probably seen the spoof broadcasts of The Daily Show and similar “fake” TV news programs: the realistic sets, the bogus “live” shots from overseas hot spots, the absurd interviews. While steeped in wisecracks and satire, the shows have a hard political edge and often stir controversy. Increasingly, in the absence of serious news from the “real” news media, they also are getting into actual journalism, prompting one scholar to call the phenomenon “investigative comedy.”

The popularity of fake American TV news shows dates back to Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update in the 1970s, when dubious anchors used comedy to lampoon public figures and joke about current events. The sketches reached their modern form with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who turned a backwater Comedy Central cable program into a political blockbuster starting in 1999. The Daily Show (whose motto is “The Best F#@king News Team Ever”) has, in turn, spun off two popular shows: The Colbert Report with Steven Colbert and, most recently, the HBO network’s Last Week Tonight, hosted by British comedian John Oliver. Both Colbert and Oliver are Daily Show alum.


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