A recent TIME magazine on-line poll asked Americans who the most trusted newsman in America following the passing of Walter Cronkite. The shocking winner was Comedy Central "fake news" anchor, Jon Stewart, beating out real news anchors Charlie Gibson, Brian Williams, and Katie Couric.
How can a cable television comedian be the most trusted man in U.S. media? The answer is in the psychology of trust.
Research in communication and psychology clearly shows that to be trusted a communicator has to be seen as knowledgeable and credible. Surface characteristics, such as physical attractiveness, being expressive and articulate, also are connected to perceptions of trust. Jon Stewart has the basics - he's articulate, expressive and appears knowledgeable.
Stewart seems to know what's really going on in the news. In fact, a great part of his appeal as a news source is the fact that he shows the "real" news story behind the network and cable news programs often limited and politically slanted versions of a story.
But the most important element is that Jon Stewart's main purpose is that he is attempting to provide the REAL story that gets beyond the media spin and perceived (and actual) media bias. Jon Stewart is simply the advocate of the news-hungry viewer.