Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date

Spring 4-24-2017


Political Satire, Political Humor, Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, Political Knowledge, Political Participation, Democracy, Media, Stevenson Center.


The Colbert Report was a satirical, political, and “fake” news show that lasted for almost a decade on the Comedy Central Network. Although many scholars have argued the program was less impactful and influential than Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, phenomena such as the “Colbert Bump” show a definite impact on the political lives of many Americans. Using four quantitative surveys from 2008 to 2012, this thesis investigates the effects of watching The Colbert Report on individuals’ political knowledge and political participation. Results indicate non-Republican viewers increased their political knowledge, but not participation, from watching the show. The educational effect was more prevalent than The Daily Show and other political news programs. Results indicate a divide based on partisanship regarding how media educates and incentivizes participation in politics.