While a just-released content analysis of the Comedy Central show's 2007 episodes suggested that the show "falls well short" of providing the "full news of the day," it also suggested it is "something more than simply comedy played for laughs," the PEJ said.
In fact, the project likened The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to the works of such venerable satirists as Russell Baker, H.L. Mencken and Art Buchwald in offering pointed political observations.
Among the study's findings: Washington-related pieces, foreign affairs and politics accounted for almost one-half (47%) of the show's content. "In that regard, by the numbers, The Daily Show closely resembles in its topic agenda the news menu of many cable 'news' shows," the study concluded.
It also called the show's use of video "quite documentary … culling through archives to show official hypocrisy, abuse of language and spin."
The PEJ's study suggested that the show is "heavily tilted" toward criticism of the Bush White House.
As for the show's popularity, the PEJ found that when spinoff The Colbert Report was factored in, Comedy Central's satirical political duo was regularly watched by 16% of Americans, two percentage points higher than PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.