Leave it to the Right-wing GOPers to decry any populist movement that doesn’t fit neatly into their narrow fiscal and social ideology. Even if the premise is about fairness and calm discourse in the media, the GOP pundits label it as either a Left-wing communist plot to destroy the fabric of our nation or, worse, an invalid movement started by a bunch of stoners, and the Rally to Restore Sanity was labeled as the latter. In fact, the stated and implicit purpose of the rally this past weekend was to encourage sane discourse on both the Right and Left. And while many of the attendees were Democrats pushing their own ideas, this was not at all the substance of the rally itself.
In truth, the rally featured equal criticism of both MSNBC and Fox News. Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann were just as vilified as Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, but apparently the Right didn’t read Stewart’s mission statement. And all of this rhetoric by the Republicans does one thing — it disproves Stewart’s own theory that we can treat the Left and Right-wing media equally. The idea that the content and tone of these pundits is the same is naive on Stewart’s part. To illustrate his theory, Stewart used a traffic analogy:
these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.
This is all well and good if you let the car in front of you go first, but when the Republicans are erratically driving Hummers and cutting off every reasonable mid-size sedan, it is not possible. The Right have louder, bigger and more offensive cars and the left has a responsibility to make sure that they aren’t cut off or out of the dialogue. While Stewart acknowledges that some of these drivers may be jerks, he also downplays the significance by saying, “that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.” We all know this isn’t true. Just turn on Fox News.
Jon Stewart is not a liberal — and I’m glad. While we need the Left to call out the Right (and vice-versa), we also need Stewart to call out the media pundits on both sides; something he is very good at. But in an effort to be “fair and balanced,” he has lost site of the truth behind the toxicity of the Right’s voice. The GOP knows this, but they need an enemy. And with an ignorant base, Republicans have written a narrative that paints Jon Stewart as a convenient antagonist to Glenn Beck.
The tactic is working and making Jon Stewart more popular than ever.