Folks who watched Stephen Colbert's brilliant series of bits in which he set up a superPAC for the 2012 elections wound up better informed about campaign finance issues than newspaper readers or viewers of other networks or shows, a new study reports.

The study, from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, interviewed viewers of Colbert and consumers of "real" news outlets such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and broadcast nightly news, as well as talk radio and newspapers. Not only did Colbert viewers think they knew more (FOXNewsFOXNewsFOXNews) but actually did know more. Colbert won a Peabody for the series in 2012.

The spots also made a star (in my heart, at least) of Colbert's lawyer, Trevor Potter.

"Colbert did better than any other news source at teaching," the study authors said. "There were two reasons. First was the narrative structure. He walked us through creating a super PAC and every episode was a continuation of that story. And second was the use of humor and satire."


It'll be a crime against society if there's no room for this kind of stuff when Colbert shifts to CBS next year.