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Opinion: Taking the Stewart/Colbert rally too seriously

There are way too many members of the media taking The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear way too seriously. The amount of media coverage dedicated to The Rally seems to be overwhelmingly suspicious of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s motives. Folks: it’s a comedy show. Have you ever read so many reviews of an event before it takes place? This is hardly a political-based rally. Sure, there will be political groups that come out. They, too, will be missing the point. Just some of the coverage:

  • Carlos Lozada, editor of The Washington Post’s Outlook section, writes in his piece “The case against Jon Stewart’s rally by a “Daily Show” fan”: “Please, Jon. There’s still time. Cancel the rally… this rally just doesn’t feel right. When all is well with the universe, you’re the guy mercilessly mocking people who hold political rallies, not the guy organizing them.”
  • Notes The New York Times: “News organizations have no idea whether the event is meant to be political or entertaining in nature, but most of them, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and the three network evening newscasts, have plans to cover at least some portion of the rally live.” (Has there ever been this much debate over covering an event on The National Mall that could bring out hundreds of thousands of people?”)
  • USA Today Faith & Reason Reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman curiously writes: “…before the two stars of Comedy Central will hold their Beck-ish mock rallies on the National Mall on October 30, will they also hold a religious rally like Beck’s Divine Destiny event the night before his Mall rally?” Um… no.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s TV Critic David Zurawik is even more harsh: “Let me be perfectly clear, I think the arrogance of Stewart and Colbert has reached a point with this rally that I find appalling. But I am even more worried about the bow-down-and-blindly-worship followers who seem to have lost all sense of perspective.” (The audience has lost perspective?)
  • Slate’s Timothy Noah is blunt in his piece “Stay Home! The case against the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear”: “It isn’t too late. Colbert and Stewart should cancel the march, and stick to the excellent gigs they’ve already got. They are brilliant comedians. They make lousy leaders.”
  • At least The Washington City Paper has a sense of humor about the rally. In a funny internal meta-memo, Editor Michael Schaffer tells employees: “You may attend the rallies in a non-participatory fashion; However, because the rallies are comic events, you may not laugh; The act of not laughing, though, can be just as politically loaded as the act of laughing. Therefore, staffers are advised to politely chuckle, in a non-genuine manner, after each joke.” It goes on in that vein.
  • Again, folks, this is satire. Let’s wait until the event before we pass judgment. As far as I’m concerned there should be one and only one metric: is it funny? If it’s not, and it turns out to be a too-serious political rally, I’ll retract my comments here and offer a full mea culpa.

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