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The Blue & Gray Press | May 27, 2018

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Staff Editorial: Rally Demonstrates Worrying Trends

Staff Editorial: Rally Demonstrates Worrying Trends

This past weekend, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held the much anticipated “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The rally drew over 215,000 people according to CBS News. The Comedy Central duo host two of the most popular late night shows on cable TV, “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” While these shows can be informative and newsish, they are really not appropriate sources for reliable and non-partisan reporting.

For many college and high school students, the news is boring. Politics, crime and administrative policy fail to hold attention like “The Simpsons,” “Two and a Half Men” (really?), “NCIS” and other primetime shows. Instead, a large percentage of our age group chooses to get their news watered down and hawked by comedians, educated though they are.

According to it’s website, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” is “unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity or even accuracy.” Clearly, the show does not even claim to be along the same lines as primetime news shows with Katie Couric, Brian Williams and the like. What these shows understand is that they are primarily entertainment and comedy shows, based on news and current events.

Stewart and Colbert are not news anchors and they’re shows are not news shows. Of course, they are hilarious, well-written and are usually based on relevant topics. The rally this weekend was essentially the same thing.

The rally was three hours long, with only about 20 minutes of actual political content. The other two hours and forty minutes was filled with jokes, costumes, guest stars and singers. It was funny, but it wasn’t that substantive.

In this month’s election, 11 percent of the 18-29 age group voted. That statistic itself accurately describes the problem. Instead of 215,000 people putting their energy into traveling to D.C. to stand in a crowd at a rally that has very little influence, shouldn’t young adults be rallying around actual issues and problems with our country? Instead of rallying just to rally, as we saw this weekend, a rally for an actual cause should be able to draw that many people to the mall, not just the promise of celebrity guest stars.

We like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Their shows are funny and entertaining. The rally was fun, but it didn’t raise any real issues or have any lasting political influence.

Next time you want to take part in something political, make sure it’s more than just a gimmick. With the same format, so much more could be accomplished.

Comments

  1. b.n.

    For many college and high school students, the news is boring. Politics, crime and administrative policy fail to hold attention like “The Simpsons,” “Two and a Half Men” (really?), “NCIS” and other primetime shows. Instead, a large percentage of our age group chooses to get their news watered down and hawked by comedians, educated though they are.

    Wow, that’s condescending.

  2. UMW Alum

    Is it really condescending? I don’t think so. A poll conducted by an independent marketing research firm that focuses exclusively on college students as a consumer group show that the most popular television program for college students (this is a little dated, Spring of 2002 but I don’t think the trend has changed much) was Friends, followed by The Simpsons, followed by ESPN Sports Center, followed by ER. Stewart and Colbert might have arrived on the scene after this poll was conducted but again, I don’t think that the viewing habits of college students have changed much.

    Thank you for this editorial, it’s nice to see that, as you mentioned, despite the hilarity and pointed social commentary that both Stewart and Colbert give us, it hasn’t and shouldn’t replace a real interest in politics and the issues of governance. There were about a dozen, give or take, races that were decided by less than 10,000 votes and in my own district–the Virginia 11th–Connolly leads Fimian by less than a thousand votes in the last tally. I don’t see it as far-fetched to suggest that if the demographic that turned out for the Colbert/Stewart rallies (overwhelmingly in the 18-29 age cohort) were as enthusiastic about affecting real change in our government through informed voting as they were about coming up with clever signs for the rally and laughing along with Colbert/Stewart’s smug lampooning of our elected officials, that the election results might have been different.

  3. jess

    They were expecting 60,000, and got over a quarter million, towering over Glenn Beck’s rally. Shoot, I’d call that a political statement.

  4. paraselenee

    I agree with b.n and jess. I watched the entire thing, beginning to end. Maybe we don’t watch the news because most of it is their opinions and a whole bunch of bulls**t when all we want to hear is the bottom line. Why not watch it in the form of something that’s actually entertaining? Why condemn college kids for actually wanting to sit through something that can actually keep our attention rather than watching something dull and dreary? We get the same message, just with more humor and less useless detail. I care deeply about politics but I’ll still watch more Colbert and The Daily Show than any news station out there. Besides, the internet trumps all. Stop hatin’ on people who are more entertaining and journalistic than anyone one the Bullet will ever be.

  5. K

    To be fair, it’s not as is Fox News is a source of “reliable and non-partisan reporting” either.

  6. A. Nonymous

    You do all realize that this wasn’t a commentary on either political party, right? It was a commentary on the ridiculous and sensationalist rhetoric used by both sides (candidates, news organizations – Fox, MSNBC, et al).

    And K, if you’re going to argue that Fox News isn’t unbiased, which it isn’t, you should also be made aware that MSNBC’s Keith Olberman was featured thrice on the video of ridiculous commentary. He also (until the Monday after the rally) ran a segment called “World’s Worst” focusing on, in his fine, unbiased opinion, the world’s worst people. Strangely, the kiddie-porn producing, drug- and human-trafficking, raping, female-rights violating awesomeness that is much of the rest of the world didn’t seem to rate his commentary often.