On June 11, 2008, the editor of CHNM’s History News Network, Rick Shenkman, appeared on Comedy Central’s the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss his recent work, Just How Stupid are We: The Truth About the American Voter. A current bestseller on Amazon.com, Just How Stupid are We cites disturbing statistics that Shenkman believes reveal Americans simply do not know much about politics.
When only 2 out of 5 citizens are able to name the three branches of the federal government, only 1 in 7 can find Iraq on a world map, and the majority believe the war in Iraq was caused by Saddam Hussein’s involvement with Al-Qaeda, Shenkman questions the ability of American voters to make intelligent and informed decisions for guiding the world’s most powerful government.
Shenkman further suggests that the majority of American voters are not only unaware of current events and unable to differentiate between facts and spin, but they simply do not care to learn more if it involves reading a newspaper or book rather than absorbing their news from entertaining network news shows.
Speaking with Jon Stewart, Shenkman questioned the depth of the news presented on television, including the Daily Show, and pointed to the host’s responsibility to present relevant information to viewers rather than focusing on entertaining details. Stewart praised Shenkman’s call for intellectual accountability: if the American people are going to criticize the current administration, they should educate themselves in order to be able to enact critical change.
In addition to being the editor of the History News Network (http://hnn.us), Rick Shenkman is an Emmy-wining investigative journalist and the New York Times best-selling author of six books, including Legends, Lies & Cherished Myths of American History and Presidential Ambition: How the Presidents Gained Power, Kept Power and Got Things Done.