So the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ had a twist ending. It takes a comedian…
As if Americans who follow Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert didn’t know that the two liberal comedians lean heavily on ridicule of conservatives, Republicans, the Tea Party, traditional values voters, the ‘religious right’, and what that population sincerely holds as patriotism.
As if we didn’t hear and see Jon Stewart jabbing President Obama on The Daily Show last week for not going farther to the left to be even more insistently liberal in his administration’s efforts to overhaul social programs and policies.
But once again, I step up where I haven’t seen any one particular major media make the point. Stewart and Colbert’s Washington rally Saturday may have been as professionally opportunistic as it was political (their protests that it wasn’t political were doubtful….I think it was intended to be a political triage all along), but there was a takeaway more serious than anything Jon Stewart has delivered so far (other than the fine exchange he did with Mike Huckabee on abortion).
He closed the boffo event with a serious statement about America, the government and th press.
Within the first minute of his deft, very articulate stump speech at the end of the rally, Mr. Stewart turned his gun sights on the, um, fake news, which he called, “the country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator,” which, he added, “did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.”
“The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous, flaming ant epidemic,” he said, to roars of approval from the crowd.
Yes, we’re sick of it all, aren’t we?
Even with the vast gulf between their faux respective beliefs, Mr. Stewart and his co-host, Stephen Colbert, found common ground in the failings of the press. Mr. Colbert awarded some media outlets a medal for helping keep fear alive; Mr. Stewart gave out his awards to average Americans who go about their business every day in lives built on compromise and comity.
And here, the NYTimes David Carr doesn’t give coverage to Stewart’s comments the LA Times does.
“The image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false,” he said.
Stewart said Americans hear “how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. The truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don’t is here [in Washington] or on cable TV.”
Stewart, the comedian who has become the most trusted “journalist” in America, is….what?…..stepping up, for at least this moment?
So what exactly was this?” Stewart asked in his concluding speech. “This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and we have nothing to fear. They are and we do.
“But we live now in hard times, not end times,” he continued. “And we can have animus and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictionator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder…. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”
Good line, for whatever truth it reflected.
The address marked an unusual bout of sincerity for Stewart, who acknowledged as much: “I know there are boundaries for a comedian-pundit-talker guy, and I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow how I have violated them.”
But he already said he doesn’t care what the media have to say.
And…in a different but not so different way…neither do we.