The "Daily Effect"
The WaPo's Richard Morin has offered a fairly egregious interpretation of a study in his "Unconventional Wisdom" blog (which is in fact very conventional).
Given that the 2004 election was one of the most cynical in American history, and given that it may well have been stolen by the GOP*, you might say that those who watched Stewart and rated the candidates negatively were "informed." Not Morin. He believes that the pinheads who watch Comedy Central are so meager of brainwaves that they are easily fooled by Stewart's clever cynicism. Or as he puts it, "Jon Stewart and his hit Comedy Central cable show may be poisoning democracy."
To test for a "Daily Effect," Baumgartner and Morris showed video clips of coverage of the 2004 presidential candidates to one group of college students and campaign coverage from "The CBS Evening News" to another group. Then they measured the students' attitudes toward politics, President Bush and the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).
The results showed that the participants rated both candidates more negatively after watching Stewart's program. Participants also expressed less trust in the electoral system and more cynical views of the news media, according to the researchers' article, in the latest issue of American Politics Research.
Morin also reportedly toyed with the idea of calling it the "Patrick Henry Effect," but decided today's kids wouldn't know him or what a dangerous downer he was back in the day.