Some television programs create a cottage industry of academic research. Sesame Street is one clear example. Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- believe it or not -- is another.
And if you study political communication, a couple of guys are cottage industries of a sort for academics. I speak in praise, obviously, of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
Here's the abstract and full pdf of yet another study, this time on The Colbert Report. As a PhDweeb who did some of the earliest research on "new news" and faux news programs, I'm allowed to take the high road, to sniff at these latecomers, and pretend superiority. But in truth the stuff coming out now is quite good, better than the early studies, including mine. This one looks at the ideology of experimental subjects and how they respond to Colbert's partisan humor. It gets into how people negotiate "ambiguous political messages from ambiguous sources," which is a neat angle to take given Colbert's approach. You can read it yourself.
Think of this as another brick in the wall of showing how Colbert and Stewart have very different effects, given their approaches. The conclusion is a bit obvious, that we need to consider predispositions in understanding how people view such programs, but the work here is excellent, especially the discussion of what it all may mean.