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THE NECESSITY OF SATIRE IN MEDIA LITERACY: STEPHEN COLBERT’S USE OF SOPHISTIC AND SOCRATIC IRONY

Andrew C. Jones
Keywords: Media Literacy, Fake News, Irony, Stephen Colbert ,

Abstract

Media literacy campaigns champion systematic thinking and high elaboration in the fight against fake news. However, they often overlook an ancient tool for discrediting demagogues and destroying disinformation: satire. This essay explores how satirist Stephen Colbert used irony in his 2010 congressional testimony, arguing that Colbert’s shift from Socratic to Sophistic irony encouraged listeners to think for themselves through a more central information-processing route. The essay concludes that irony increases recognition of fake news, but warns that an overreliance on Sophistic irony undermines an appreciation of truth, and requires the reintroduction of Socratic irony as a counter balance.