Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jon Stewart & The Celebrity Ball

Wow. How the hell did that happen?

How did Jon Stewart become the only liberal who can get the national media’s attention?

For years we Lefties have decried how the media ignores liberals, liberal rallies, liberal messages. Hundreds of thousands of people protest the Iraq War and the media can barely bother to mention it. The national news media descends on Nashville’s Tea Party convention -- one reporter for every three conventioneers -- and reports dominate the news cycle for over a week. But Netroots Nation draw twice as many attendees? Crickets. Glenn Beck’s D.C. rally gets covered ad nauseum, while the One Nation rally a few weeks later is barely noticed. There’s wall-to-wall coverage of the CPAC convention every year, but liberal conferences are ignored.

Heck, even CNN has cut away from President Obama’s events, though they covered every campaign appearance by President Bush.

With this in mind it’s been really interesting to see the mainstream media’s embrace of Jon Stewart. Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show dominates the news this morning -- even getting covered on my local news stations. The Stewart/Colbert rally has been covered in the national newspapers for days. What all this tells me is that, at least in the eyes of the national news media and punditry, liberals have a leader and his name is Jon Stewart.

As an observer of our politics and media I have to say I find this fascinating. How did a New York comedian get elevated to “influencer” status -- beyond even the President of the United States, or past presidents like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter? Is it because Stewart is an entertainer, like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck? Does our media pay more attention to entertainers than they do policy makers and politicians? It would appear so.

I mean, thank God. Thank God the Left finally has someone who can get the attention of the corporate media because, as I’ve said often enough, it seems like most of the time we’re shouting into the wind. And unlike Limbaugh and Beck, whose unyielding defense of all things conservative often requires them to stretch into absurd ideological contortions, Stewart calls bullshit on the Democrats as often as he criticizes the right.

I just find this fascinating. If I were ever to interview Jon Stewart I would want to ask him if he’s even aware of his influencer status, how the hell he thinks this happened, and what he plans to do with this responsibility.

I also don’t get liberal talkers such as Bill Press who have criticized Stewart and Stephen Colbert for holding their rally right before the election, as if everyone who is going to be on the National Mall could instead spend the weekend knocking on doors and phone banking. That just misses the point, doesn’t it? The point is the very last thing the folks attending this rally would do is spend their weekend campaigning. They’d be attending kids’ soccer games and watching college football.

No, this rally is garnering national media attention -- finally we get some fucking attention! Thank you, Jon Stewart, for accomplishing what actual door knockers/phone bankers and other activist-types have failed to achieve. You're getting the word out. And this can only be a good thing.

This tells me something important. I guess what we Lefties have missed is that, basically, this is how it works these days. If you want the media’s attention you have to be an entertainer. You have to dress up in funny costumes, say crazy things, and basically put on a show. I don't mean a street theater show, which liberal groups like Code Pink have been doing forever. I mean a real show.

So now that we know this, I expect every liberal gathering, press conference, rally, policy conference, legislative battle, candidates' forum, etc. to be an entertainment extravaganza. This should be easy for us, we apparently specialize in all things Hollywood after all. Think about it: the Tea Party has Pat Boone and Ted Nugent. We've got pretty much everyone else. This should be a no-brainer.

So come on, Liberals. It's show time. Want cap-and-trade legislation? A public option in your healthcare bill? Net neutrality, Wall Street reform, and an end to the endless wars? Then get the best writers you have in a room and storyboard it. Write the theme song. Cast it as you would a blockbuster movie. Roll it out with all of the promotion of a new Bruce Springsteen or Madonna album. Do it like they did in "Wag The Dog.”

I mean, apparently this is the secret. This is what it takes. We can do this.