Sept 2010: Jon Stewart a centrist? Yeah right.

Anybody sense some hypocrisy in Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity”? It’ll convene on the National Mall in Washington on Oct. 30, in mock-standoff against Stephen Colbert’s “March to Keep Fear Alive.”

Now, I love Jon Stewart and his Daily Show (the other week I blogged about how it just won its eighth-straight Emmy). But I don’t think he exactly represents America’s “disenfranchised center” or “distracted center.” At times, yes, he is this voice, as when he ripped into Crossfire in 2006. “Stop hurting America,” he pleads to the show’s hosts. His criticism helped lead to Crossfire’s demise.

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Often, however, Stewart represents the left. And young people. And those who are tired of America’s tiresome news cycle. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer on the big rally in Washington, but it’s certainly not a bi-partisan event. (A better example of a moderate is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently launched a campaign to support moderate Republican and Democratic candidates from across the country, reports The New York Times.)

Stewart says on his web site:

We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.

Stewart shouts sometimes on the show.

The Christian Science Monitor quotes Jeffrey Jones, author of “Entertaining Politics: Satiric Television and Political Engagement.”

If mainstream journalism no longer occupies a neutral middle ground, and satirists feel like they are two of the last public figures who might remind us of Roosevelt’s dictum that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” then, says Jones, “that says a lot about what our political culture, and the media that help shape it, have become.”

However cloaked, he adds, this is the satirist’s plea for sanity in a hyperventilated moment of fear and hysteria.

Meanwhile, Colbert encouraged his viewers to go to the National Mall, “because now is not the time to take it down a notch, now is the time for all good men to freak out for freedom.” This is a special case where humor — from Colbert — is much easier to pull off than sincerity — from Stewart.

Not to let Jon Stewart steal all the fire for the big upcoming rally, here’s Stephen Colbert’s very ballsy roast of George W. Bush at the annual White House Press Corps Dinner.

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