This House Believes That Satirical News Shows (Including but Not Limited to The Daily Shows, Colbert Report, Late Night with Seth Meyer) Bring More Harms Than Good to Political Discourses


Notice that the most important step you need to do as a debater is to enrich your analytical locker and the second most important step is to be able to match the similarity of one motion to another. So, when you read motion analyses, try to figure out what are the essence of the motions, what are the general Burden of Proofs (BOPs) of the motions, what are the general elements of the actors/proposals in the motion and don’t forget to note it down so that in the future, if you see a similar motion, try to match it with what you already read: FREE ARGUMENTS.

For this motion, the essence (or spirit) is simply: how a certain way of conveying information contributes to political discourse. Whereas the BOP, similar to any “brings more harms than good” motion, is to prove what are the harms and why it outweigh the benefits. Few simple and general elements of satirical news shows are that it is simple (or rather simplistic), it is offensive to some extent but on the other side, it is attractive. From these elements, we can figure out how to create the arguments for both sides and can figure out in which other motions these arguments can be applied to. One exercise to illustrate how this tips can really be practical: after you’ve read this article, try prepping for this motion: This house regrets the use of Memes in political discourses (yes, I mean you, Sassy Socialist Memes). Although the tips above can be useful, don’t forget that what differentiate good debaters with great debaters are the details (especially in Australasian circuit).

What are the possible argumentation for the motion above? Notice that these are my personal view in regards to the motion and there are countless possibilities of arguments that I, and even the whole adj-core team haven’t found.

The first and foremost step on arguing is to find out the ideals. So, in this motion, you need to find out the ideals of political discourses; what are the characteristics of ideal political discourses? Generally, I could list two, 1) neutrality – so that it attracts participation among polarized partisan groups and 2) attractiveness – so that it attracts participation from the apathetic. You could argue in which one is more important than another later, but for the purpose of efficiency in writing this post, these explanations are sufficient. So, let’s start:

Government can argue on how these shows simplify complex political issues. There are two inherent reasons why this will happen: 1) because you need to make people laugh and 2) because you have limited time to make people laugh, otherwise they will be bored. This is why for example, on covering the Brexit issues, John Oliver decided not to cover the decision holistically, but rather making fun of David Cameron and Nigel Farage. These harms the understanding of certain complex political issues by simply reducing it to an ‘ad hominem’ level.

Moreover, these satirical shows are run by and for mostly a partisan crowd, because jokes play in social context, there is a longer explanation about this, but simply it’s this: things become funny because you and your social circles thinks it is funny. That’s why lousy jokes are acceptable for one audience but grossly boring and stupid to another. So, liberals might laugh at John Oliver jokes, but conservatives frowned upon him. The consequence is it fails to become a neutral ground to accommodate both already polarized masses. Another reason why it further polarize politics is that as explained in the previous paragraphs, it is prone to ‘ad hominem’ attacks to political icons of the opposing sides. If you support Donald Trump, and you know in Last Week Tonight John Oliver compared him to Oranges, you probably won’t watch the shows, resulting into liberal exclusive echo-chambers.

Opposition can argue on how these satirical shows attract audience who were apathetic to politics. Two particular reasons why this is likely to be true: 1) complexity in politics makes people disinterested, i.e. it’s very hard to relate on the cost and benefit calculus of an isolationist economic policy pursued by Trump, or even the security consequences of Trump’s Muslim Travel ban but it is easier to relate when comedian depict him as similar to Hitler. 2) jokes. People are tired. They don’t want to go home and then spend their night watching serious news. A light comedy intertwined politics will attracts them to then at least watch the shows, becomes aware of what happening in the world, with the hopes that in the next election they would get up from their couches and start voting against an “evil” Trump. Obviously, this argument also needs some substantiation on why political apathy is on the rise and why it matters.

Opposition could also argue on the “offensive” elements of these satirical shows. Before the rise of such shows, media is already polarized in the first place, but it is exactly the “offensive” shows invites people to engage towards each other. It is exactly when you compare Trump to a bunch of Orang Utans, his supporters will be angered and try to attack back, otherwise they will just sit comfortably, watching Fox news, and deny critics.

Basically, that’s all I’m willing to write for this motion. Now try prepping: This House Regrets the Use of Memes in Facebook Political Discourse! Have fun!