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Stewart, Colbert low on trust index; we demand recount

August 24, 2012|By James Rainey
  • In a new poll, comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart came in at a 3.9 out of 10 on a scale of trust in news sources.
In a new poll, comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart came in at a 3.9 out… (Charles Sykes / Associated…)

I suppose Jon Stewart got his wish, but it seems like a raw deal anyway. The comedian has said he doesn’t want his “Daily Show” viewed as real news. And a new poll suggests the audience has gone along:  the national survey of voters ranked Stewart and his Comedy Central accomplice, Stephen Colbert, lower on a trust index than most other sources and just a notch ahead of conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

The USC Annenberg/Los Angeles Times Poll on Politics and the Press found local television the most trusted source of news, followed by newspapers and PBS. Asked to rate how much they trust news sources from 0 to 10, with 10 most trusted, those traditional sources scored 6 or above.

Colbert and Stewart came in at a 3.9, a bit below Fox News (5.3) and MSNBC (5.0) but ahead of conservative talk radio (3.8) , Facebook (3.0) and Twitter (2.3).

Yes, you can almost feel a Stewart segment coming on here.  When told by “60 Minutes” host Steve Croft in 2009 that an earlier survey had found almost half of young adults got their news via late night shows like his, Stewart  responded: “Yes. That is a huge mistake on their part.”

He also suggested he didn’t have a lot of faith in public surveys — and people not bright enough to avoid responding to them.

“I don’t believe polling figures,” the comedian told Croft. “I don’t think that’s a cross section of America. I think it’s a cross section of people who would go, [shifting to voice of bumpkin/knuckle-walker] ‘What? You wanna ask me some questions? Sure.’ ”

Asked in another USC/Times question where they turn for news, 8% of registered voters said they checked Stewart and Colbert at least once a day.  Another 18% said they got news from the comedy programs at least monthly.

That leaves roughly three quarters of registered voters who seldom or ever check for news with the Comedy Central crew. No wonder their trust figures are low.

The non-viewers don’t know what they are missing: withering reality checks on politicians and media personalities, particularly those that don’t bother with consistency, and savage satire on the entire political scene. In this corner, the Comedy Central shows get an 8.0 on the trust meter, reserving judgment on where to rank the competition.

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james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesrainey

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