The much anticipated “Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear)” was held this past Saturday on the National Mall in Washington D.C. by Comedy Central duo Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
An estimated 200,000 people showed up in an effort to combat extreme political solutions to America’s problems, which are exacerbated by the media.
“The country’s 24 hour politico-pundit perpetual panic ‘conflictinator’ did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder,” Stewart said during the rally. “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”
The event was comedic in nature, but was laden with media-bashing undertones. For instance, Colbert falsely announced giant bees that “can smell fear” were going to attack the large crowd.
Stewart called Colbert out saying, “you’re deliberately fabricating fears that don’t exist.”
Colbert handed out fake medals to those news stations that “keep fear alive,” while Stewart gave out awards to everyday Americans who go about their normal business every day. “We work together to get things done every damn day! The only place we don’t is here,” Stewart said, pointing to the Capitol behind the stage, “or on cable TV.”
Appearances by musical guests such as Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow created a light and happy atmosphere. Even basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made an appearance.
Home-made signs by the rally-goers were a common sight, ranging from ones sporting a to-the-point theme, some bitterly ironic, and some not really making any sense at all (“I Like Turtles”).
One sign read “My Comedy Channel” next to the Fox News logo, and “My News Channel” adjacent to the Comedy Central logo.
A sign on the blunter side read “Congress should do stuff.”
Jim Neimer, a rallier from Wisconsin, told The Washington Post, “I find it incredibly ironic that I had to come to a rally sponsored by a comedian to get at the truth.”
The large crowd caused transportation backups all around the city this Halloween weekend. The Metro, Washington’s subway system, had already reached 330,000 people at 2 p.m., which, according to Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates, is the norm for an entire Saturday. An extra part of the Mall was opened last minute as well in order to accommodate the massive amount of ralliers.
Stewart and Colbert’s rally has already drawn responses from the attacked media. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann surprisingly announced that he is doing away with his “Worst Person in the World” segment, agreeing with the Comedic duo that “the tone needs to change.”
Stewart ended the rally on a more serious note. In an effort to “restore sanity” in the way Americans interpret their media outlets, “This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or to look down our noses at the Heartland or passionate argument, or suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times.”