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Stewart-Colbert rally: Entertainment or pure politics?

By Marc Fisher

UPDATE: We’ve just launched our Intersect coverage of the Stewart-Colbert rally. Find the latest from Intersect users and Washington Post staff here. And if you’re new to Intersect, you may find this tip sheet on how to publish stories useful.

This weekend, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are bringing their joint “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” to the National Mall, prompting renewed questions over the role of TV personalities in American politics. Is the rally simply a clever marketing stunt, or could it have a real impact on Tuesday’s midterm elections?
Is it even a rally, or merely a performance?

The Washington Post is partnering with Intersect.com to look for on-the-ground answers from observers and rally participants. This is an opportunity for you to help us cover the rally and answer reporters' questions about the event.

Comedy Central estimated in its permit application for the rally that as many as 25,000 people would attend the event, which is scheduled for Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. More than 220,000 people had RSVP’d for the event on Facebook as of late Monday, but it’s difficult to gauge how many will actually turn out.

The Story Lab team will be filing stories throughout Saturday's events on the Mall via Intersect, a new site designed to collect and present stories live and from the scene. Here on washingtonpost.com and on Intersect's site, we'll be documenting the scene and asking those in attendance and those watching at home to weigh in on the politics vs. entertainment question. Please join us.

SIGN UP: If you’d like to share your own rally stories on Intersect, visit Intersect.com and use the invite code “washingtonpost” to create an account. You can then post your photos and stories before or after the rally. Learn more about Intersect here.

By Marc Fisher  | October 27, 2010; 7:03 AM ET
Categories:  Assignment Editor, Journalism  
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Comments

To liberals-- who don't read or have the attention span to listen to any in-depth analysis --- the Comedy Channel is their bible, unfortunately.

Posted by: ohioan | October 27, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

bahahahahaha!...the Democrats and their liberal puppets are bowing down to a comedian as their savior...steward will be selling koolaid and cheese puffs....bahahahahahaha!

Posted by: JWx2 | October 27, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Seems like a red flag when comedians become a communications platform for a political party. Maybe they should get a WWF wrestler and a rapper to stump for them as well. Actually, I think they did come to think of it. The movie "Idiocracy" seems prescient now.

Posted by: smith4321 | October 27, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Bwahahaha the conservative puppets bow down to their Glenn Beck master who spews his own idiocratic comments with his lousy 80,000-person rally!

See, this is the difference between us “liberals” and you “conservatives”—you guys take yourselves *way* too seriously—you truly believe that White people are superior, that your “pure” hetero, homophobic lifestyle is the “right” way, and that the rich should continue getting richer and not be taxes, and the middle and low classes should be taxed *more*.

Furthermore, you really, truly think that we have no spine. You think we’re just content to shrink and hide be quiet in our little houses, sipping tea and watch Colbert and chuckling.

The problem is you’ve drastically underestimated us. Our numbers are larger, we’re sick of being ignored and treated as pariahs in the U.S. We’re tired of you saying you’re going to shrink government, instead expanding it by leaps and bounds through disgustingly corrupt programs and paramilitary contracts. At least when we say we’re starting a new social program, we don’t claim that it’s going to “shrink” government. We don’t claim it’s going to “cost nothing” as G.W. Bush said.

So, as we have our lousy little 200,000-300,000+ person rally this weekend, we’re going to be sipping coffee and tea, watching the screen as thousands of people make fun of conservative teabaggers, and enjoy ourselves.

Because no matter how many seats you guys win in Congress, we’ll win in the long run. We know it. Seeya in the elections booth…

Posted by: adamprall | October 27, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Once again, I think the media is missing the point about the Rally to Restore Sanity. They are focusing on whether a comedian should host a rally instead of asking why over 200,0000 people say they are going to attend the rally.
I am going to attend because the rally's idea struck a serious chord for me. I feel disenfranchised by both the Democratic and Republican Parties. Both scare me in their increasing extremism. It troubles me that my representatives are party puppets first and problem-solvers second.
We have real problems facing our country including a broken health care system, an unwinable war and a financial sector without watchguards. My representatives are spouting extreme party lines instead of rolling up their sleeves and crafting the compromises that lead to real solutions.
I am going to my first DC rally in 15 years to show my representatives that I am upset with their extreme posturing and I want them to return to the middle ground.

Posted by: nmerrill | October 27, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"To liberals-- who don't read or have the attention span ..."

...the Democrats and their liberal puppets are bowing down to a comedian as their savior"

I am so confused.

It used to be that Liberals were the Harvard educated elitists, now they are illiterate and have A-D-D.

It also used to be that conservatives blamed liberals for screwing up the country because they were "long time washington insiders." Now, when a non-insider comes along we critize them for not being "insider enough".

Its not like the liberals (by the way I suspect Stewart is more conservative than most republicans (but probably not more conservative than a single Tea partier)) are advancing Orly Taits, Joe The Plumber, Michelle Malkin, Anne Colter or Christine Odonnel. John Stewart is actually smart. He also goes after the stupidity of Washington where ever he finds it.

Is there a mailing list or RSS feed that i could get on so that i know what republican talking points I should be using? They change so quickly and i have a job so i can't watch Fox news all day / night long.

Are they Harvard educated elitist or illiterate fools?

Do republicans want outsiders with a new perspective or do they want people like John McCain who have complained since 1989, the "system is broken" (because it gets them elected) but not doing anything to fix it?

It is so confusing? Could someone straighten this out for me? I need to know how to bash Stewart and the liberals; but it seems like Stewart is doing what we republicans believe in.

After all, we did send about 20,000 people (or about a third of what the Yankees get for an average season game) to watch another "commentator" (Glen Beck) to do the same type of thing just a month ago.

Someone please help. Bashing this rally doesn't make sense to me? Please give me coherant talking points that I can repeat without thinking!!!!!

Posted by: Gus4 | October 27, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Neither hardcore Democrats or Republicans are going to understand why this rally resonates with people. There are a lot of people out there that don't want to be force-fed party politics by politicians or their media puppets.

Stewart has his politics, and they lean to the left. However, he would much rather have serious, rational discussion than a series of talking points shouted back and forth over the airwaves and internet. A lot of other people feel that way, and the rally is for those people.

However, with two parties in charge of politics and pretty much only extreme views being reported on, the country can't get civil, reasoned discourse. So, satirists have to mock the establishment until people realize how silly the whole situation is.

That is what the rally is about. It's not about Democrats, Republicans, liberals, or conservatives. It is about trying to show the politicians and the media outlets that a lot of people want something different than what they are getting. The only problem is, we have to do something silly, like a mock rally, to actually get the attention needed. We have to play the crazy game to undermine the crazy game.

Welcome to the world of satire.

Posted by: TroyL | October 27, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe they should get a WWF wrestler and a rapper to stump for them as well."

Now i am more confused! Should i not be supporting Linda McMahon for Senate?

It sounds like we have shifted the narative that working for the WWF is no longer an asset.

I miss the old republican party. When Bush and his team came out with talking points. Regardless how silly they were, we all lined up and screemed them as loud as we could.

Remember?

"we know where the weapons of mass destruction are"
"Tax cuts pay for themselves"
"if we cut taxes on the rich everyone will benefit"
"We don't torture"
"We actually won the election."
"we kept america safe."

Boy i miss those days.

Posted by: Gus4 | October 27, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Most of the above comments are why people are showing up to the rally. I am tired of hearing "Liberals are stupid and misguided" and "Conservatives are stupid and misguided."

Posted by: TroyL | October 27, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Entertainment or pure politics? Why not both? Why not blend the two as John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have amazingly well over the years?

Then again, there's Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly who have made it clear they do NOT host news shows, as well. The only difference is that Colbert and Stewart are intelligent and imaginative humorists. Beck, Limbaugh and O'Reilly are laughing stocks who think they are serious.

Posted by: MsQuote | October 29, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse


Was The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear March a Success?
http://dj6ual.viviti.com/entries/politics/was-the-rally-to-restore-sanity-and-or-fear-march-a-success

Posted by: PreparedAmerica | October 30, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

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