NEW YORK — The folks at Comedy Central were annoyed when Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly kept referring to “The Daily Show” audience as “stoned slackers.”
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So they did a little research. And guess whose audience is more educated?
Viewers of Jon Stewart’s show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch “The O’Reilly Factor,” according to Nielsen Media Research.
O’Reilly’s teasing came when Stewart appeared on his show earlier this month.
“You know what’s really frightening?” O’Reilly said. “You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it’s true. You’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote.”
Comedy Central executives realized, and O’Reilly acknowledged, that he was poking fun. But they said they didn’t want a misconception to persist.
“If the head of General Motors was watching O’Reilly’s show, that could be very important to us,” said Doug Herzog, Comedy Central president.
“If you listen to O’Reilly, you get the sense that it was crazy longhairs behind the show,” he said. “And it’s not. It’s great, smart television that attracts a well-compensated audience, most of whom are voting age.”
No sense of humor at Comedy Central?
Relax, said Fox News Channel spokesman Rob Zimmerman.
“Comedy Central must have lost their sense of humor,” Zimmerman said. “Without Jon Stewart, Comedy Central would turn into the Great American Country Channel.”
Comedy Central also touted a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey, which said young viewers of “The Daily Show” were more likely to answer questions about politics correctly than those who don’t.
Comedy Central had no statistics on how many people watch “The Daily Show” stoned.
Although seemingly taken aback by repeated “stoned slackers” references while talking with O’Reilly, Stewart was ready with a joke.
“This election is going to rely on the undecided,” he said. “And who is more undecided than stoned slackers? Ice cream or pretzels? Ice cream or pretzels? What’s it going to be?”
Whether it’s the slacker or no-slacker zone, O’Reilly is entering it Oct. 7, when he’s scheduled to appear on “The Daily Show.”
So if Stewart’s audience is comprised of stoned slackers, how would Herzog describe O’Reilly’s audience?
“I’m not getting into that game,” he said.
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