Daily Show uses political appeal to boost audience

NEW YORK: Already the darling of the mainstream media, Comedy Central's nightly news parody, The Daily Show, is consolidating its gains in credibility and influence with a major publicity push for its presidential election coverage.

NEW YORK: Already the darling of the mainstream media, Comedy Central's nightly news parody, The Daily Show, is consolidating its gains in credibility and influence with a major publicity push for its presidential election coverage.

More than just poking fun at the candidates, Indecision 2004's correspondents have been hitting the campaign trail, satirizing the way political journalists often trade in unsubstantiated gossip.

"One of our goals is to get the political beat writers writing about [host] Jon Stewart and the influence he has on individual campaigns," said Tony Fox, the network's EVP for corporate communications. "The strategy in getting off-the-TV-page coverage is to get people unfamiliar with The Daily Show to sample the show."

Indecision 2004 has benefited from strong participation from the Democratic contenders, said Fox. This is a turn on what happened in 2000, when Republicans such as John McCain were interested in the show as a way to reach the younger demographic.

"The show's credibility is no longer an issue," Fox said. "Our people are just as smart and just as insightful [as mainstream media]. The difference is we can say what we really think."

Much of the show's reputation has come as a result of the popularity of Stewart, who was featured recently on the cover of Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly.

Largely because of Stewart, what began in 1996 as a mock newscast has evolved into an alternative news outlet for about 1 million viewers every night.

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