‘The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear’ on National Mall in Washington

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the founding fathers of fake news, drew throngs of exuberant supporters to Washington on Saturday for a joint rally that crowded streets, taxed the transit system and flooded the Mall.

Mr. Colbert arrived on stage, rising from the ground in a vessel that looks like it could transport one Chilean miner at a tme, wearing an Evel Knievel costume. Photo: Drew Angerer/The New York Times

A sea of smiling faces, many of them carrying homemade signs with messages aiming for belly laughs, cheerfully flooded the U.S. capital on Saturday, heeding a call for civility from comedian Jon Stewart and a sardonic plea for excess rage from his fake nemesis, Stephen Colbert.

An estimated 200,000 people turned out at Washington D.C.’s National Mall Saturday afternoon for the much-hyped ‘Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear.’

Hosted by ‘the founding fathers of fake new,’ skits included appearances by Don Novello playing his “Saturday Night Live” character Father Guido Sarducci as well as Law and Order star Sam Waterston reading out a poem written by Colbert, which contained passages such as:

“That guy who just coughed down your neck, does he have an infection? That restaurant that you went to brunch, did it pass the restaurant inspection?” and “Someone’s robbing your house, I can see through your blouse. Your mother was right, you chose the wrong spouse.”

Mr. Stewart kicked off the rally like a rock star, shouting out to the festive throngs that stretched from Capitol Hill to the Washington Monument about 10 blocks away on the National Mall: “Are you ready to restore sanity?”

Stewart, a satirist who makes his living skewering the famous on the late-night cable TV satirical news program “The Daily Show,” decried the “extensive effort it takes to hate” and declared “we can have animus and not be enemies”.

The "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," hosted by Comedy Central's pundits, draws people wearing costumes and carrying signs to the National Mall.Photo: Lori Crossley/Flickr

Co-host Stephen Colbert, who poses as an ultraconservative on his Comedy Central cable TV show “The Colbert Report,” played the personification of fear at the rally.

He arrived on stage in a capsule like a rescued Chilean miner, from a supposed underground bunker. He pretended to distrust all Muslims until one of his heroes, basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is Muslim, came on the stage.

Throughout the rally, Colbert and Stewart poked fun at American news organizations for their supposed sensationalist coverage of security, health and social issues.

There were also performances by The Roots, Tony Bennett, The O’Jays, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples, and a surprise performances by Yusuf — formerly known as Cat Stevens — who sung the first verse of “Peace Train” before Ozzy Osbourne crashed the stage to perform “Crazy Train”.

Stewart gave out “Medals of Reasonableness” to Detroit Tigers baseball player Armando Galarraga who kept his cool after an umpire made a bad call; wrestler Mick Foley who stood up for kids being bullied at school.

And also to Internet sensation Jacob Isom who stopped a Texan evangelist from burning a Quran; Velma Hart, the woman that told US President Obama she was “tired of defending” his administration at a town hall meeting.

Colbert presented a “Fear” award to news organizations ABC, CBS, AP, NPR and The New York Times for banning their reporters from attending the rally out of fear of appearing biased.

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages and colours, turned out for the duo's 'Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear' event, cheering, laughing and dancing to the event's musical acts on a brilliantly sunny autumn day with the gleaming Capitol Building looming just behind centre stage. Photo: Cliff/Flickr

Just three days before the congressional mid-term elections, the rally was a rare infusion of goofy silliness into the U.S. capital, where angry rhetoric has characterized much of the political debate since the historic election of Barack Obama two years ago.

Mr. Stewart said the rally was aimed at the large silent majority who deplore the toxicity of political discourse in a country that remains deeply polarized.

Stewart closed the rally with a speech criticizing American cable news but ended on a positive note about the need for the country to work together.

“This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, activists or to look down on the heartland. We live, now, in hard times, not end times.” said Stewart.

“The country’s 24-hour political pundant, perpetual panic conflictor did not cause our problems but its existence made solving them that much harder. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”

He continued to say that labels such as “bigots,” “racists” and “terrorists” are thrown around too much and that it’s dangerous not being able to tell the difference between a Muslim and a terrorist.

He concluded, “Sanity will always be in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and to see the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.” [via NY Times and Washington Post]

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.