Where cable news fails, satire succeeds.
A new survey from the University of Delaware Center for Political Communication revealed that viewers of satirical news programs like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver are far more informed about the issue of net neutrality than those who habitually watch cable news—Fox News especially.
Seventy-four percent of Last Week Tonight viewers are familiar with the US Federal Communication Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules to allow internet “fast lanes,” which would give internet providers the ability to charge websites higher fees for direct access to their customers. Only 52% of Fox News viewers are aware of the proposed rules.
Twenty-nine percent of Last Week Tonight viewers said they’ve heard “a lot” about net neutrality, which is nearly three times higher than the percentage reported by the general public. Meanwhile, 7% of Fox News viewers said they’ve heard a lot about net neutrality.
In June, John Oliver’s rant on the net neutrality issue went viral, but that was certainly not the first time he or his ilk covered the topic. Stephen Colbert has covered it frequently, and Jon Stewart has been talking about it for years—dating back to 2006 when he turned the late Senator Ted Stevens’s “series of tubes” comments into a popular meme.
There have been calls for mainstream media outlets to expand their reportage on net neutrality, but so far they’ve largely ignored it.