In his book, Sunstein talks about general interest intermediaries, which he considers to be newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters. Sunstein feels that GIIs are very important in informing people because, "People who rely on such intermediaries have a range of chance encounters, involving shared experiences with diverse others, and also exposure to materials and topics that they did not seek out in advance (p. 8-9)." Basically, Sunstein worries that as people selectively choose what they are going to watch they potentially eliminate hearing from the opposing view point or miss out on important information altogether.
Sunstein says: "From the standpoint of citizenship, and freedom as well, problems can emerge when people are choosing alternatives that sharply limit their own horizons (p. 126)." I agree with Sunstein that we need to broaden our horizons when it comes to what information we are presented; however, I think he exaggerates how polarized we make ourselves in our information sources. Since I rarely watch anything other than Comedy Central or Adult Swim on television, and skip watching network news completely, I thought I'd take a look at what comedians had to say about the possibility of a government shutdown and the budget, and whether or not it was informative. While I know that a large portion of comedic material is related to politics, I think that it might get sold short when it comes to informing people about current events.
Here's what I found:
· In last night's episode of Saturday Night Live, "Obama" addressed the nation on solving the federal budget. He talked about how nobody got what they wanted.
· Stephen Colbert lit a Congressional Budget Shutdown Menorah in anticipation of a federal budget shutdown:
· Jon Stewart talked about how both Republicans and Democrats were acting ridiculous in their attempts to solve the budget. (This clip is a bit long).
· Jimmy Kimmel suggested putting Congress members into a Star Wars trash compactor in order to get them to solve the budget (2:00-3:00)
· Jay Leno proposed that Congress members aren't really doing much to solve the budget, but are instead goofing off.
· Jimmy Fallon talks about solving the budget (1:00-1:20) and compares it to reaching a deal for another season of Jersey Shore.
What I got from looking at these videos were tidbits of current events. Although they are intended to be humorous and definitely cannot be taken literally, I think that they expose people to what's going on around them. If a person had not watched the news and saw one of these bits, it might spark an interest in them to search for more information on the topic. This might mean that a person who would normally completely avoid politics may desire to learn more. Therefore, I don't think Sunstein has to be so pessimistic - but then again, maybe I'm being too optimistic.
Do you think comedians can be considered a sub-GII?