Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Media Studies


James Compton


Television shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are often venerated for their satirical criticisms of mainstream media and for their pedagogical value as critical resources for political consciousness. The programs are said to provide interrogations of contemporary forms of power while fostering more active, collaborative and politically engaged audiences. This thesis interrogates such claims by introducing a critical reading of the shows. It engages in dialogue with scholars working within a Culturalist approach to media and politics by demonstrating the importance of a Marxist-inspired approach to the study of satire news. Attention is given to the political-economy of satirical programming with a specific focus on its kinship with mainstream news media. Equal consideration is given to the programs' branding strategies, including savvy forms of 'cool' consumption and the commodification and exploitation of online fan-labor that increasingly complicate the shows' pedagogical value.