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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Who could possibly believe that Stephen Colbert is a real conservative?

It seems hard to believe, but some people just don’t get satire. At all:

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert has become the subject of an academic survey conducted at Ohio State University titled “The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report.” The survey, conducted among 332 undergraduates, concluded that many conservatives believe that Colbert is on their side. As reported by today’s (Wednesday) Chicago Tribune, the researchers observed that “conservative viewers often don’t comprehend Colbert’s “deadpan satire” and process his messages “as being conservative, Republican, and disliking liberals.”

The mind boggles. Who could possibly believe that Stephen Colbert is a real conservative?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • Marshall Myers

    This just goes to show, most conservatives are actually pretty clueless about things. They’re too dogmatic to get it, they don’t consider nuance, and they generally don’t look beyond black & white.

  • We’ve known about this since 2006.

    Remember this? Dur-a-dur.

  • Arco

    Holy crap! Unbelievable. Reminds me of the people that didn’t get that Archie Bunker was actually used to satirize the right-wing, racist blue collar guy, and simply applauded him because they agreed with him.

    But at least Archie’s character was 100% sincere. Colbert…I mean he’s SO OBVIOUSLY satirical!

    Well, another reason I could never be a conservative: they’re generally severely lacking in sense of humor…

  • RyanH

    True satire requires a degree of self awareness to both perform and appreciate. Self awareness is not a trait noted among people who hold extreme positions, politically or religiously or otherwise.

  • Victor Plenty

    People exist who believe Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, and the rest of the right wing rogues’ gallery are sincerely principled “conservatives.” Many people fail to recognize these pundits are all cynically and parasitically milking populist rage for their own personal profit.

    Hell, people exist who believe Fox News is really fair and balanced. It doesn’t surprise me at all to learn many of these same people think Colbert is a sincere right-winger.

    Many people on the left have their own blind spots, too. Look at just about any example of what PETA thinks would be a persuasive advertising message, for instance.

  • AJP

    At least one researcher believes that conservatives and liberals simply don’t understand each other on a fundamental level.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/04/conservatives-live-different-moral-universe8212and-heres-why-it-matters

  • Paul

    I was reading an article about this, and it involved the confirmation bias. People look for information that confirms what they already believe, so hear Colbert and hear what they want to hear.

    Being a conservative probably makes that bias a little worse, since the point of being conservative is the avoidance of change. However, I have found myself occassionally in arguments with well informed conservatives that inspire me to do a little more research for the next time I argue with them.

    I have also occassionally been sent an Onion article and not realized it was satire until I realized it’s source. The most recent example was when my brother sent me an article about how hundreds of university rich kids had decided to step up and serve their country in Iraq by joining the army. I read the entire thing as serious news, more than a little amazed, but still, I didn’t realize it was a joke until I realized it was the Onion.

  • Mathias

    AJP, that was a great article and i had fun taking those morality quizes. Thanks for posting it.

  • People exist who believe Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, and the rest of the right wing rogues’ gallery are sincerely principled “conservatives.” Many people fail to recognize these pundits are all cynically and parasitically milking populist rage for their own personal profit.

    Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.
    (People believe what they want to believe.)
    –Gaius Julius Caesar

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