Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

Glenn Beck may have the Tea Party, but Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have, well, the non–Tea Partyers. After a midterm-election campaign filled with high-pitched partisan rhetoric and unyielding positions, Stewart and Colbert on Halloween weekend took their Comedy Central fake-news shows to the National Mall to hold what they called the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. The two comedians — Stewart, who makes his living as a satirist on The Daily Show skewering politicos and the media, and Colbert, who poses as an ultraconservative on his show The Colbert Report — gathered a crowd of some 200,000 of their fans, or rather, those people who felt drowned out amid the constant shouting between right and left. It was a rally that mocked rallies — many attendees carried protest signs that mocked protest signs — and in the process cemented Stewart and Colbert as two of the most influential entertainers today (and whose late-night ratings among younger viewers are starting to outpace those of Letterman and Leno). In fact, whether they like it or not, they are arguably the leaders of a distinct group of informed but not inflamed Americans, those who can really identify with Stewart when he sums up the rally's guiding philosophy as, "I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler."