Breaking Boundaries| “Science: What’s It Up To?” The Daily Show and the Social Construction of Science

Paul R. Brewer


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a satirical television news program, often addresses scientific topics and features scientists as guests. To develop a theoretical framework for examining how the program portrays science, this article synthesizes research on satirical television coverage of public affairs and research on portrayals of science in other media. It then uses textual analysis to illuminate how the program challenges a political “war on science,” subverts the journalistic practice of balancing in coverage of scientific controversies, and critiques how traditional television news covers science. The analysis also explores how the program provides a forum for deliberation about the relationships between science and broader society as well as how it may reinforce a scientific mystique constructed by other media outlets.

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