Like Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington that preceded it, estimates varied vastly of the size of crowd that gathered for Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" held on the National Mall on Saturday. The Associated Press said it numbered in the "tens of thousands." CBS put the number at 215,000. And then there was Stephen Colbert, who tweeted "Early estimate of crowd size at rally 6 billion." Democratic politicians who may have hoped that the rally and its coverage by the broadcast networks, cable news channels, and various Internet news sites would boost their cause just days before the midterm elections were likely disappointed as Stewart, Colbert, and other celebrities appearing at the rally lampooned politicians and talk show commentators at each end of the political spectrum. "The country's 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder," Stewart remarked. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who took the brunt of some of the spoofing, was particularly critical of Stewart's efforts to equate far-right and far-left cable news commentators. "It wasn't a big shark but Jon Stewart jumped one just now with the "everybody on ... cable is the same" naïveté," he tweeted. In the end, virtually every U.S. print and broadcast medium outlet downplayed the rally. Several overseas publications, especially Britain's Guardian newspaper, gave it more attention.

01/11/2010