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Jon Stewart, Enemy of Democracy?

Comedian and fake-news anchorman Jon Stewart makes the already cynical viewers of Comedy Central's
Comedian and fake-news anchorman Jon Stewart makes the already cynical viewers of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" even more cynical -- and possibly less likely to vote, two political scientists at East Carolina University say. (Comedy Central)

Democrats and independents were far more generous; on average, they gave Katrina victims on average more than $1,500 a month, compared with $1,200 for Republicans, and for 13 months instead of nine.

But for Democrats, race mattered -- and in a disturbing way. Overall, Democrats were willing to give whites about $1,500 more than they chose to give to a black or other minority. (Even with this race penalty, Democrats still were willing to give more to blacks than those principled Republicans.) "Republicans are likely to be more stringent, both in terms of money and time, Iyengar said. "However, their position is 'principled' in the sense that it stems from a strong belief in individualism (as opposed to handouts). Thus their responses to the assistance questions are relatively invariant across the different media conditions. Independents and Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to be affected by racial cues."

To test the effects of race, participants in the study were asked to read a news article about Katrina victims. Some read a story featuring a white person. Some read identical stories -- except the victim was black, Asian or Hispanic. Then they were asked how much assistance they think the government should give to help hurricane victims. Approximately 2,300 people participated in the study.

Iyengar said he's not surprised by the latest findings: "This pattern of results matches perfectly an earlier study I did on race and crime" with Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. of UCLA. "Republicans supported tough treatment of criminals no matter what they encountered in the news. Others were more elastic in their position, coming to support more harsh measures when the criminal suspect they encountered was non-white."

Who Would Have Thought?Healthy Marriage, Pictures Sell, And 'The Sopranos'

? "How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence" by Chris M. Wilson and Andrew J. Oswald, Warwick Economics Research Paper Series. British researchers discover that a happy marriage may be as beneficial to health as quitting smoking.

? "Risk Avoidance: Graphs Versus Numbers" by Hannah Faye C. Chua, Frank J. Yates and Priti Shah, Memory & Cognition, Vol. 34, No. 2. University of Michigan researchers find that people are more likely to buy an improved but more expensive new toothpaste if the probabilities of getting gum disease are expressed visually in a chart than if they are expressed numerically.

? "Disability, Gender and Difference on The Sopranos" by Kathleen LeBesco. Women's Studies in Communication, Vol. 29, No. 1. A Marymount-Manhattan College communications professor argues that story lines in the hit TV show "The Sopranos" that feature mob boss Tony Soprano's one-legged mistress and the "morbidly obese" wife of a crony send mixed messages about the disabled.


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