Hasan Minhaj & Trevor Noah: informative or biased?

Jency Clement, Beyond Liberty Editor

I love Hasan Minhaj. So when I found out that Minhaj (comedian and former Daily Show correspondent) had a Netflix series, Patriot Act, I was ecstatic. I immediately logged onto Netflix and got started on the first episode, which covered Affirmative Action.
The show was filled with humor and political satire. Yet, although I laughed and I learned, I still felt uneasy. Since I’d previously done research of Affirmative Action, I knew that there were strong arguments that Minhaj had not addressed and refuted.
I was disappointed—I had been excited to see an Indian represented in the talk show world and I thoroughly enjoyed Minhaj’s humour. But if I had watched Patriot Act without knowledge of Affirmative Action, I would have consumed the information with a false sense of understanding regarding the topic. Of course, I knew that Patriot Act would have significant liberal bias, but I didn’t realize how much power a 20-minute show could have over my opinions. Conflicted, I considered whether or not I should keep watching a biased show that could potentially skew my political ideology.

Because of Patriot Act’s biased perspective, it is easy to agree with Minhaj. In the Affirmative Action episode, Minhaj attacks people and weak arguments instead of addressing cohesive ideas the opposing side proposes.
Minhaj’s series isn’t the only show that perpetuates this bias; many others, like the Daily Show and SNL, also utilize this strategy. However, although these shows do have a polarized lense, I find it difficult to completely condone them. After all, political talk shows do help viewers gain awareness regarding national and global events. The news can get boring and depressing, and talk shows often bring light to these topics, making them interesting and easier to digest.
Thus, it is difficult to determine whether political talk shows have a detrimental or positive impact on Americans. A good Trevor Noah video can be educational, yet it will likely be shrouded with biased humour. Nevertheless, I still applaud talk show hosts like Trevor Noah and Hasan Minhaj for producing content that is informative yet entertaining. Especially for our generation, which has a short attention span, content that helps us learn while also making us laugh is much appreciated.
However, I find it concerning that we often base our political knowledge on someone’s extremely polarized opinions. While comedic talk shows can supplement our political knowledge, they shouldn’t be at the core of our political ideologies. To be an informed citizen, we have to base our opinions on fact—not on another person’s opinions.
That being said, I’m not going to stop watching Patriot Act. But I’m also not going to base all my opinions on Minhaj’s. It’s important to exercise caution as we wade through a surplus of satirical and comedic political shows. The shows themselves do not positively or negatively impact our ideologies, but the rate at which we consume them does. To truly be a well-informed, educated citizen, we have to form our own opinions—not spew off Trevor Noah’s.