Young viewers of the Comedy Central "fake news" program The Daily Show With Jon Stewart are more cynical about politicians and politics in general than those who watch real news programming, according to this study (available for free for a limited time only) in American Politics Research.
According to the authors:
We find that participants exposed to jokes about George W. Bush and John Kerry on The Daily Show tended to rate both candidates more negatively, even when controlling for partisanship and other demographic variables. Moreover, we find that viewers exhibit more cynicism toward the electoral system and the news media at large.
Despite thes negative reactions, viewers of The Daily Show reported increased confidence in their ability to understand the complicated world of politics.
Our findings are significant in the burgeoning field of research on the effects of "soft news" on the American public. Although research indicates that soft news contributes to democratic citizenship in America by reaching out to the inattentive public, our findings indicate that The Daily Show may have more detrimental effects, driving down support for political institutions and leaders among those already inclined toward nonparticipation.