The sad perversion of fake news

The old Daily Show, back when it featured Jon Stewart, called itself “fake news,” but it was a very specific thing: It was a topical humor show which used the tropes of a news show for humorous effect.

What we started calling “fake news” toward the end of the recent election cycle was something else. It was click-bait articles with headlines that implied something outrageous, offered up for twin purposes: 1) to get eyeballs for earning advertising dollars, and 2) to produce outrage. Some of it was primarily to produce outrage, but mostly the outrage was just a means to the end of getting even more eyeballs to make even more money.

These are very different things.

I miss the old Daily Show. It was funny. When someone asked Jon Stewart if it didn’t worry him that some large fraction of young people claimed that the Daily Show was their main source of news he said it didn’t, because he knew it wasn’t true: Much of the humor of the Daily Show depended on you already knowing the news of the day.

It’s really unfortunate that click-bait, outrage-producing faux news got tagged with the same label. It’s not the same thing, but since it got the same name, I fear it will be a long time before we get something like the Daily Show back again.

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2 thoughts on “The sad perversion of fake news”

  1. I still watch the Daily Show. Though it’s true that Trevor Noah is not always as funny as John Stuart he is still well worth watching.

  2. It’s not that it’s not funny, it’s just that I miss the structure of Jon Stewart’s style of “fake news,” with him reading the news like a news anchor and the staff going through the motions of “reporting” from “on location” at wherever the news is happening.

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