Why Jon Stewart's 'Rally To Restore Sanity' is important. No, seriously.

We should have seen this coming.

The “Rally To Restore Sanity,” which Jon Stewart announced on Thursday night’s Daily Show, is the next logical step in Stewart’s seriously humorous attack on extremism — not political extremism, but rather the media coverage of political extremism.

The Wall Street Journal this morning says, “The whole thing, of course, is a send-up of the recent pair of Washington marches led by [Glenn] Beck and Al Sharpton.”

I wouldn’t be too quick with that confident “of course” — I suspect this is less a “send-up” than a humorously-framed but genuine attempt to allow Americans to take part in what they know in their guts is true but so rarely see on TV: That most citizens aren’t thunderingly condescending Republican-haters or baying-jackal, Beck-led libertarians.

Stewart wants to mobilize the people who don’t want to be mobilized; citizens who wish politicians and media pundits would stop bellowing and fighting and work things out for the common good of all Americans. Whereas extremists have redefined “moderate” as “wishy-washy,” Stewart calls for “A Million Moderate March” to show that moderation is a virtue, not spinelessness.

Stewart says, “Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement.” What he’s really conjuring here is a new kind of counter-culture: Not peace and love and rock & roll; not tune in, turn on, drop out, but a kind of civilized Yippie prank, with Stewart as Abbie Hoffman in a suit; a Happening with true media clout.

According to the Rally To Rescue Sanity website:

We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.

Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 — a date of no significance whatsoever — at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.

As far back as 2004, when Stewart essentially destroyed CNN’s Crossfire by calling out hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala for “hurting America” for their shrill, yammering, pathetic version of political debate, Stewart was honing what is now his core idea: I can’t influence politics because I’m not a politician, I’m a comedian; but I can influence media coverage, because I’m part of the media.

This, I think, is what could make his rally really interesting. That is, if he follows through on it, and it doesn’t veer off to become a Joaquin Phoenix-like, I’m Still Here put-on. In the past, Stewart has demonstrated a tendency to skewer targets only up to a certain point, and then retreat behind his oft-used excuse that all he’s doing is a little TV show presenting what he invariably calls “fake news.” He heaps contempt upon the likes of Bill O’Reilly, but isn’t adverse to going on The Factor to plug his new product, Earth (The Book).

But if he marshals the moderates and ends up with thousands of well-behaved people attracted by his message of restoring sanity, that won’t be “fake news.” And his will be a message that will have to be covered by everyone from the nightly network news to Hannity to Morning Joe. If he manages to cut across the political spectrum with that message, it’ll be a triumph.

It’ll also be an opportunity for the Batman to Stewart’s Superman, Stephen Colbert, to present the dark, gritty side of all this sunny optimism. I mean, of course, the simultaneously planned March To Keep Fear Alive:

10/30/10. Will you be there? Do you think Stewart is being both serious and funny?

Follow: @kentucker

Comments (202 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3 6
  • Liz

    Brilliant. Jon & Stephen are national treasures.

    • Mel

      YES!

      • too Much Hate

        There is more hate on page one of comments then Beck had in his entire rally. So any gatering of this crowd is only going to make Beck look better because he worked hard to have no signs and no protests… I expect Stewart to get a bunch of people who will have nothing but hate signs and it will be an ugly contrast to Becks rally. he was smart to take the politics out Stewart can;t because he is all about stocking politics for $$.

      • Janalina

        The hateful, rude and stereotyping comments are largely from the people against the rally. What does that tell you?

      • jodipo

        yeah, keep telling yourself that pal. You nutjob teabaggers and your messiah Beck are all just cuddles and puppies and anyone who doesn’t bow down to you is a baby eating devil worshiper. Good to see you have a good handle on the whole REALITY thing you nutter.

      • Lorrie

        You really saved my skin with this infmraotion. Thanks!

    • rerun

      Agreed. So funny how far The Daily Show has come. I was a fan back in the Kilborn days.

    • Ya Sure

      I predict Stewart gets 3-5 thousand to show up.. and they make more touble and leave the mall in more of a mess than Becks 300K +

      • farhan iqbal

        offical figures of Becks rally is actually 87,000…fox news and BECK lied …i guess their math degree needs to be checked to c if its authenticated.

      • Ya Sure

        If you buy 87,000 I have Jr Senator I will offer you as President who will pay for all your health care, not increase the debt, close Gitmo and lower the oceans. The number came from CBS the people who manufactured documents to change an election. I don’t buy Beck’s 500K at all because the side areas are not packed, but Looking at arial shots 150K is the absolute lowest assuming no one was under the 4000ft of trees on a hot DC day. 300K seems to be the most I would guess heck even NBC used 300K and they hate Fox, they just aren’t as historically crooked as CBS.

      • merry

        is Beck saying this on FOX and now his sheepites are repeating it LOL…103010..be there baby….

      • merry

        look, the Beck fans are littering the posts with more negativity…point proven folks!!! 103010 be there

      • ann p

        cbs isnt the only source for the 87k number. reuters too.
        like with everything you tea perty nuts disagree with, it must be a vast anti tea party conspiracy

      • Asehpe

        I’ve looked at the same photos and done some counts with my own figure-recognition software: 100K at best, probably fewer, so the 87,000 number may actually be right on spot.

        Predictions, predictions… Beck’s rally was supposed also to degenerate into chaos; it went on smoothly. What will happen to Stewart’s and Colbert’s? Frankly, nobody can know till it happens. You want to make bets? Sure, go ahead. I’ve seen so many bets on so many things go wrong that I prefer to refrain from that. But if it makes your kidneys work better, sure, go ahead, predict, and pontificate.

      • All American

        Ok Iqbal, only CBS said 87,000. One other channel said 100,000+, all other said 300,000+. Of those saying 300,000+ were ABC, NBC, and CNN. Please check your facts with more then one source next time, you won’t look so misinformed.

      • All American

        The square footage of the area that runs between the reflecting pool and the trees, both sides, comes to 280,000 sq ft. If a person(judging from the closness appearing in photos) utilizes 2.5 sq ft, that comes to 112,000 people just within the area stated. Now account for all the other areas, at least 300,000. Want proof, look at the MLK I have a Dream pics and see what they called 200,000. Hmmm, funny, looks like someone can’t count.

      • tigro

        beck’s 300k+?? LOOOOLLL… he didnt even get 100k… and i’m pretty sure that stewart and colbert can top that… by the way: did you know that in most big cities throughout the US such rallies are going to be held?
        i really feel sorry for you, cause you simply dont get what this is about…

    • Carol Jez

      Unfortunately I cannot be at the Mall, but I will be here at the Westlake gathering in Seattle to support reason, respect and responsibility in government. Thanks, Jon, for giving us this opportunity.

    • August Reveur

      I went to the Rally — because I am exactly the kind of American that Jon described in his invitation — I believe in fact-checking. I believe that we, as a people, can pull ourselves out of the mess we’re in. I am neither left nor right (I own a gun and support healthcare – so much for stereotypes). I am a middle-ist.

      I believe that the policies of the 8 years prior to Obama are what caused the problems. I don’t hate the Republicans for it. I don’t hate Bush. There is no hate here. I want our government to work — which means the politicians have to work together. I want solutions not bickering.

      So, to the commenter who said that he found “more hate in the first few sentences” — really? Really? Is that what you read? Because, really — Jon’s message is not anti-Beck or anti-Obama — it’s ANTI-HATE.

  • Laura

    We’ll be there….and we’ll even get a sitter for it!

    • mary q contrary

      I’m literally on the phone with my husband right now working out our sitter details. See you there.

      • fred

        hahaaha, you are going, hahahhaaha. say hi to the two other people there, :)

      • Asehpe

        Hi fred, thanks for not coming! You’re exactly the person who shouldn’t be there. Please go on laughing hahaha it’s so good hahaha here’s a banana, eat it hahaha…

  • cpeynolds

    I would go if I could afford the flight. I hope the busy majority close to DC show up at the rally.

    • miss k

      What I would give to be able to go!!! And it’s on my birthday!! If you can, please show up and support the sane in our country.

      • fred

        The LIBS are sane, hahahahaha :)

        His ratings are 1 pt higher than that man Maddow

      • jodipo

        Fred, he is a COMEDIAN you moron. Wow, you really do have pudding for brains… of course,that explains why you have to be a republican, where thinking is punished and making sense is bad.

      • Asehpe

        Your ratings are even lower fred hahaah here’s another banana have a go hahaha :-)

    • Javabooknut

      I live in Baltimore and there’s little that could keep me away. Really hope they do give out signs that say, “I disagree with you but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler.”

      • Lori

        We should have t-shirts made!

  • Michael

    I’m there, but if I were further than a metro ride away I probably wouldn’t be bothered.

    • Kim

      If I can’t get off at Smithsonian and be in the middle of the rally, then I’ll just go home. I’ve got to get my house ready for weatherized for the Fall, and spruce up my resume.

      • Peter Vee

        See, you are clearly being far too reasonable.

  • David A.

    Yes! I think its BOTH funny and serious!! I mean seriously though, the majority of us Americans are moderate, NOT extremist libertarians, OR socialists…cmon people! If I didn’t live 3000mi. away in California, I’d be there no doubt!!!

    Much love to Jon Stewart, he speaks the truth!!

    • Jeneva

      Yeah, seriously!

    • S.O.

      I’ll be there in spirit. As I also live on the West Coast.

      • The Only Sane Person in AZ

        I live in AZ but I just bought a ticket. DC is beautiful in the fall, it will be a great weekend.

      • Janalina

        I am the other sane person in AZ and I will be there!

    • fred

      most people in America are social conservatives, go look it up, LIB :)

      • aradia

        …fyi, trolling posts and calling people “LIB”, fred, does little to prove your point. In fact, it demonstrates the entire point of this rally– that people are sick and tired of that kind of divisive language and would rather discuss things civilly.

      • Janalina

        Well said Aradia!

      • marebear0479

        Its broad generalizations like this that make me upset. People are many many things–and saying that MOST are this or that is way too generalizing.

      • Asehpe

        I’ve looked it up; they aren’t. Of course, in backwater little inbred communities like yours you do get some social conservatives (and the Amish, too)… And even those social conservatives are the crazy liberals of a couple of generations ago. Go figure.

    • Lou

      We live in California and bought our tickets today

    • Judi

      I live in Palm Springs, I’m 68 and I bought tickets for myself and two friends. I want the mall to be full of people who still think we are all Americans no matter the race, color or creed.

  • Renee

    I can’t wait to see the signs here!!! I’m going to do everything I can to get there from Arkansas.

  • AT

    If I could be there, I definitely would be there. Driving to and from DC from Central IL is just not feasible in a single weekend.

    He is one of the few media “news” figures that I actually agree with almost 100% of the time. Keith and Rachel can go a bit too far, and the Faux News folks jumped off the right wing deep end far too long ago for me to take them seriously. The fact that he mixes humor in with his commentary, all the better.

    • Jeneva

      Totally hippie it and hitchike, it will be worth it!

    • Ya Sure

      He is not NEWS OMG it is a comedy show.. while he does catch people like O’Reily sometimes, he also cuts the clips so comments made in jest look like serious statments so he can make fun of them. Stewart is getting rich of edited video from Foxnews he loves them even does interviews with O’Really

      • Kacey

        Do you not think that Fox News edits out sound bites to enrage the right? Yes, Jon has a comedy show, but his comedy shows the ridiculousness of what is supposed to be “REAL NEWS”. And the real comedy of it is that people believe that it Fox News is actual news.

      • Asehpe

        Yes, and that’s what makes him look like REAL news where that happens all the time. Look how O’Reilly claims that having more viewers means Fox is a better news source… As you certainly now, a non-sequitur. Yet repeated over and over again, because (as Mr Beck’s most cited author said) a lie repeated often enough becomes the ‘truth’.

  • preeb

    I wish I could be there! I’m so sick of politics being a national football game instead of a serious effort to improve life for all Americans.

    • Elizabeth

      A-freakin’-men preeb! Government shouldn’t be a marketing campaign, or bitter pissing contest, or and ego/power trip it is. On both sides.

    • Mikka

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, preeb. It is my fervent wish that our government and 24 hour news channels change to care about the people they serve and market to.

    • lishka9

      YES! I agree preeb.

  • Al

    This Baltimore girl will be there!

  • Steve

    Oh man, I really wish I can attend this one! Too bad I’m in California…

  • Kip

    I’m moderately excited about this event.

    • Mel

      good one

  • Been there

    Wow, John Stewart just re-invented the Coffee Party, a group assembled in response to the Tea Party. Way to be ahead of the curve, J-Stew.

    • mark in nyc

      wow. no one has ever heard of the coffee party so all five memebers should be on their knees thanking Stewart.

      • Billybob

        I can’t bleieve you’re not playing with me–that was so helpful.

    • John R.

      Puh-Leeze – It’s Stew Beef. where have you been?

    • Janalina

      What is this? High School? All the Grinders should show up in support of civil discourse!

  • Sara

    I sure hope he goes through with this! Grateful to hear a voice for sanity!

  • Dee

    No thanks. I love both shows but I get enough of the “I’m Smarter Than You” vibe just by living in the DC area. I don’t need to experience smugness on a larger scale from their fanbases.

    Love the show. Don’t like the fans.

    • Re: Dee

      Are you smug or think you’re smarter than everyone else? If not, I don’t know if it’s fair to assume everyone who watches the show has that attitude. I watch the show every night but don’t value my intellect any more than the average person. You and I can’t be the only ones, right?

      • Asehpe

        Precisely, forsake. If exactly the people who can disagree in a civil way prefer to stay away, then the very point will be missed. The idea is not to be smug; it’s the very opposite.

    • 0h4foksake

      I believe you are missing the point here. It’s not about who gets to control the sandbox by throwing a hissy fit. It’s about adults being adult, agreeing to disagree, not kicking sand at one another, but understanding the only way this country will thrive is via COOPERATION. And make no mistake, those in the media who scream the loudest are getting big bucks to do so. Just ask Rush, he even admitted to it. This country is supported by a majority that is grey, not black/white (metaphorically speaking).

      • tigro

        watch out, dont use the C-word, or else you’ll be branded as socialist! ;))

  • redvector

    The only people who will attend this will the liberal trolls who crawl out of thier parent’s basement. That is if they can pry themselves away from playing Halo or WOW long enough.

    • Sarah

      Wow you really missed the entire point of the rally. It’s for people who have jobs, families and social obligations. Besides, if someone plays Halo or WoW all day, when would they have time to watch television?

      • travelgirl

        Good point Sarah. And, redvector, if they do play Halo or WoW all day, so what? Does that mean their voices don’t count? Does that make them less American?

        I’ve never played Halo or WoW nor lived in my parent’s basement. I’m not liberal either for that matter. I’m considering a drive up from NC (no we aren’t all tea partiers). I doubt I’ll be the only one.

      • mary q contrary

        You go, travelgirl. I’m driving from Indiana, and I am also not 100% liberal, either.

      • Mikos

        I just quit playing Halo to post this. :-)

      • Asehpe

        travelgirl, mary, I don’t think there are any “100% liberals” — except perhaps for a few remaining communists (mostly in literature positions in universities and really unconnected to reality). I think there are lots of sane people around who actually THINK about issues as they should be thought about — as independent issues, not as part of a single worldview narrative or party line that must be preserved no matter what. The “liberals” are just a scarecrow created by the conservatives (who also similarly don’t really exist).

        The real fight is moderates against extremists. That’s what it has always been: those who get the mob angry and then distribute pitchforks, and those who actually care about what’s better and what’s worse without preconceived notions. Those who are self-righteous and “never wrong” and those who are willing to deal with arguments and ideas in a really fair and balanced way, not simply as a smug and misleading slogan.

    • Val

      People like you are what’s wrong with America, redvector. On both sides of the aisles, those individuals who insist that anyone who feels even remotely different on any topic must be evil, socialist, total losers, trust-fund babies, or insane. There is such a thing as middle ground, and most of us stand on it.

      The problem I see with this rally is that the “busy majority” are generally the ones most effected by the recession, and probably won’t be able to afford to get to the rally. I’m quite worried, actually, that only very few locals will turn up, which will completely ruin the statement that Jon is trying to make. I know that the financial situation I’m in means I have to choose between buying diapers for my daughter and doing anything fun locally, let alone flying halfway across the nation to make a political statement. Baby diapers will always win out.

      • WCNancy

        50+ here – married 27 years, never lived in a basement, making enough now to get hit with higher taxes – and I’ll be there. Flight and hotel booked – some pretty cheap deals on the Internet right now if you don’t mind flying the Red Eye from the West Coast.

    • Roger

      To say that is like saying that someone like you that loves Glenn Beck watches him from his trailer park after 6 beers, yelling at his Mexican neighbor and beating his wife.

      This has to do with moderation of the news media. Last night’s show JS gave equal time to making fun of people with Obama-Hitler signs and Bush-Hitles signs. You need to relax.

    • The Truth

      redvector is right…

      This is a Rally about nothing… The rabid middle will turn out in droves… yawn!

      • aaron

        What an ignorant and banal statement. You obviously don’t even know why you believe what you believe and you say things because you think it automatically makes them true. It doesn’t.

      • fish eye no miko

        “Rabid middle”? The very fact that people are in the middle kinda proves they’re NOT “rabid”, in the sense you mean it. If they were, they’d be extremists.
        Dear God, they need to teach logic in school.

      • rhoadsbot

        “Rabid Middle”? “Yawn”? You really give off that Emo-Gaylord vibe, The Truth. I’m going because A) it’s about time someone pulls something like this off and B) it’s going to be really fun. I’m just sayin’.

      • Hannah

        You’re right, honey. Stay home. Read something.

    • Cleetus

      Redvector – Mocking “liberals” for playing video games while you are posting on an shallow entertainment website shows you lack an understanding of irony and hypocrisy.

      • Jen

        What’s with the EW diss.

      • Skip182

        Friendly fire?

    • SherryBinNH

      Sweetie, I haven’t lived in my parents’ house for at least 40 years, and I’ll be there if I can manage it. Too many generalizations (such as yours) is WHY.

    • Janalina

      Yes, this liberal troll, who makes 250k plus a year, never plays video games, and owns her own basement-less home, will be there.

    • pittsburghpoet

      “redvector” _really_ doesn’t know what *troll* means. It is a fishing term. Just the way you are trolling us. Go cut bait.

    • GoodGrief

      Yeah, see? You can’t stop a rightie from polarizing everyone who disagrees with them as a leftie, liberal gay pot smoker who wants to get gay-married and join the military and make our soldiers and children gay, while simultaneously forcing the bacon sandwich out of the mouths of every bible-banger sitting down to breakfast before church and forcing them to do some push-ups. Fear mongering right wingers, you can’t fix the people who are drunk on Fox News. They are a cult.

    • Judi

      I’m 68, never played Halo or WoW, supported my mother, caretaker to my father and I’ll be at the mall on 10/30

    • Corinne

      Seriously? I’m a middle-aged white woman who doesn’t even know what HALO is, and I’m coming from New Mexico. I won’t make assumptions about your beliefs and intelligence, but I will say your grammar stinks. Learn to proofread.

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