With the exception of the organizers, I don’t believe anyone knows what to expect this Saturday, Oct. 30, at the East end of the National Mall. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and their respective staff have been quite tightlipped on the now merged Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive.
As Cindy Samuels noted last week, I’ll be traveling to Washington to attend the rally, and so far I’ve managed to keep from establishing any preconceived notions of what the occasion will or will not be, but I have seen in recent weeks numerous examples of why a ‘Rally for Sanity’ is absolutely necessary. And like so many such examples, this most recent one is brought to you by the GOP’s most visible PAC: Fox “News”.
On Fox Business’ Varney and Company, Monica Crowley did her best to discredit the Stewart/Colbert rally by claiming that union members were being bused in at gunpoint to the rally. She said, “Well, but there are a lot of union members who are actually being bused in at gunpoint by their union leadership.” When Varney countered not at gunpoint, Crowley said, “In some cases yes, at gunpoint.”
The relevant clip from Fox Business, Oct. 27 is up at Politicus. It’s also in the below clip, but you’ll have to tolerate Crowley insisting Meg Whitman got “ambushed” by Matt Lauer during the CA Governor debate. It almost lessens the impact of the ‘scary unions’ nonsense…
(If you watched the whole 6:02, my apologies. It’s a lot to digest… The nausea wears off after about five minutes.)
Keeping with the Fox/GOP brand’s Southern Strategy 2.0 theme, Crowley also takes issue with the president’s Daily Show appearance as a desperate ploy to reach out to the youth vote along with every other demo that Fox’s producers have long since written off:
“Obama has been targeting one group over and over again over the last two months, and that’s the kids. That’s the college students. He’s been all over campuses. He’s had these speeches broadcast nationwide to college campuses. He is targeting the kids, because the kids along with minority groups, African-Americans, Latinos last time were the core constituencies that came out for him last time.”
While it’s true that Obama received an unprecedented number of “minority votes” in 2008, I’m pretty sure Crowley missed at least one “core constituency” — certainly the white demo that accounted for 76.3 percent of Obama’s vote total must have played some role. And, honestly, since when is it a sinister undertaking to court constituencies your opponent has alienated for decades?
Frankly, Obama and the Dems sanity would be called into question if they didn’t reach out to minority groups, but Crowley has turned this upside-down for her employer’s primary audience: Obama’s going on The Daily Show to pursue the ‘others’ — The president isn’t interested in your concerns.
As for the ‘union members bussed to the rally at gunpoint’ Crowley eventually ‘concedes’ the exaggeration at host Stuart Varney’s insistence. However, as Easley rightly notes,
“This is the typical Fox News model. Crowley spent almost two minutes discrediting the rally and spreading fear about unions, and five seconds at the very end of the segment admitting that it is not true. What messages do think stuck with viewers? People are being forced to attend the Stewart/Colbert rally, and that the rally is designed to help Obama. “
He’s right. It’s formulaic, and it gets repeated with every faux controversy Fox has pursued since Obama took office. From ACORN, to Shirley Sherrod, to the New Black Panthers, Fox has consistently driven the meme that their president isn’t like you… He’s one of the scary ‘THEM!’
But that’s politics, right? Um, no. No it isn’t. The message is manipulative, inherently divisive, and intentionally provocative. It’s only political if you deem it acceptable as a means to gain — or discourage, as is more likely — votes. That it resonates as media strategy in this day and age strikes me, personally, as quite insane… which leads me back to the need for a Rally for Sanity.
As I mentioned at the top, I’ll be on the Mall Saturday, and I really don’t know what to expect. I’ll relay what I observe as soon as possible following the rally’s conclusion, but I suspect my tone, above, isn’t exactly in the spirit of what Stewart and Colbert are intending for the event. I’ll work on that, but no promises.
That said I rather liked Jason Easley’s thoughts on the Comedy Central hosts’ intentions, which have been misinterpreted, and not just by Fox, but by the mainstream media in general:
… The point is not political. Contrary to what Fox says, this is not an event to help Democrats. The message behind the Rally to Restore Sanity is social. Stewart’s is advocating for the return of civil moderate behavior to our national discourse. Mainstream media is missing the point that much of message of this rally is directed at them. By trying to fit the event into a constructed political narrative, they are reinforcing Jon Stewart’s point about their inability to cover any issue without polarizing it.
It’s clear that some at Fox have their shorts in a bunch over the Rally’s potential, and if Easley is correct, their discomfort is justified. One question, though, for anyone who cares to answer: No matter how The Rally to Restore Sanity comes off, do you expect Fox’s coverage to be anything but derisive?
Related Worthwhile Reading:
- Care2′s Nicole Nuss hosted a comments-thread chat during Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show. I went back today and read over the thread and was blown away. Read through the thread if you have 10 minutes to spare. Interspersed with the many thoughtful remarks are several examples of why a Sanity Rally is necessary. Though, if you believe the president to be the Antichrist, you may not find them all that shocking.
- Obama was right to go on the Daily Show, by Adam Serwer - Here you’ll find an insightful take-down of a dismissive critique — yet, much more sane than Crowley’s pre-show “analysis” — of the Obama/Stewart interview.
- Want to Restore Sanity? Drop Fox. It Keeps Fear Alive, by Karl Frisch – The clip says it all: