In a world where reality television rules and the line between fact and fantasy continues to fade, is it any wonder that “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” attracted nearly 200,000 people?
Brian Williams couldn’t have attracted this crowd. Nor could Katie Couric. Even Walter Cronkite, in his heyday, would have never reached this number. But faux newsmen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert attracted attendees from across the country for a rally that was one part satire and one part political insight.
What does this say about the power of the national broadcast news? Interestingly, it probably says more about this topic than politics. News happens in real time. 24/7 cable networks and Google alerts have made the nightly news tradition antiquated. Local news stations have learned to delve deeply into local topics and reinvent themselves to a certain degree, but the national evening news has yet to find its new model – or its new audience.
And so a damning commentary on the state of national television news has been made by two comics on basic cable — one of which has been named one of the most influential people in the world.
Stewart and Colbert will certainly never be compared to the respected newsmen of days gone by, but their levity doesn’t seem to matter. For better or for worse, they have become the voices of political commentary and of news.
And that’s the way it is.