Just before the 2010 midterms, Comedy Central star Jon Stewart drew a large crowd to Washington to celebrate a "Rally to Restore Sanity." He gave a closing speech, intended to be inspirational and not comical, on how "we can have animus and not be enemies."
The same man who succeeded in convincing CNN to cancel "Crossfire" in 2004 because its squabbles were "hurting the country" felt the need to sermonize about overdoing caricatures of our political opponents on television. This raises the question: Does this man watch his own show?
"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 proclaimed in his address. "The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
Simply put, Stewart is lecturing the media not to behave like ... Stewart.
Stewart routinely shreds his own "sanity" talking points on his Comedy Central show. On May 12, he denounced Rush Limbaugh as a "quivering rage heap" with no humanity but only the remains of a "superfund cleanup site that was his soul." He was so upset Limbaugh would mock the first lady's Twitter-hashtag activism for kidnapped girls in Nigeria, he suggested the response: "F—kYouRush."
"If we amply everything, we hear nothing."
His "Rally to Restore Sanity" co-host was Stephen Colbert. Well, the other night over on "The Colbert Report," the heir to David Letterman's "Late Show" on CBS came to Hillary Clinton's defense by lowering himself to calling Karl Rove "s—t for brains." Comedy Central ain't Comity Central.
On April 8, Stewart attacked us: "Brent Bozell of the conservative Media Research bull (bleep), I mean Center" reported that Univision relentlessly campaigns for Latinos to sign up for Obamacare — so the White House can claim it's a political achievement that can never be repealed and replaced. Stewart claimed this network was doing the work of the angels, utterly nonpolitical and nonpartisan: "Bastardos! How dare a cable network use its reach to help the audience comply with the law."
Like most comedians, Stewart will wildly exaggerate others for a laugh. That's fine — to a point. Stewart regularly crosses that line. Then he delivers speeches on the Washington Mall claiming to be against what he does every night for a living.
Stewart has nothing but irreverence for religion. On Dec. 3, 2012, Stewart told Fox News "you're f—-ing nuts" to protest the removal of nativity scenes from public sites or the scrubbing of school "holiday concerts" by calling it a "war on Christmas." Fox News was an "asylum" of insanity for not realizing that even Manhattan looks like a Christmas card. "All around your studio, it looks like Santa's balls exploded."
"If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
Stewart spent years preparing to look like a hypocrite on the Mall. In the summer of 2010, months before Stewart's civility sermon, he welcomed comedian Louis C.K. to his set and proclaimed he was "one of my favorite comedians." As they were joking about being bleeped by censors, Louis assaulted Pope Benedict: "I was going to say that the Pope f—-ed boys and I didn't have time." After sick laughs, he insisted he was serious: "I do think he does."
C-SPAN doesn't use laugh tracks, but Stewart could have used one when he stood in front of the Capitol and posed as Mr. Civility Goes to Washington.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.