Huffpost Media
Jason Linkins Headshot

How Will The Media Cover The Rally To Restore Sanity, Which Apparently Terrifies Them?

Posted: Updated:

Looking over the various guidelines that news organizations are laying out so that their reporters will know what to do about the upcoming Rally To Restore Sanity/March To Keep Fear Alive, I have to confess that I am astonished.

Don't get me wrong! I am not surprised by the stupidity of it all. I'm just surprised by the way they boldly, proudly, fetishize the stupidity. This is not a stupidity that comes in the form of an inter-office memo that quietly enforces some officious round of B.S. This is a stupidity that is trumpeted, proclaimed, shouted from the hillside, with the expectation that we should be impressed with it.

It would appear that your New York Timeses and your APs and your Politicos are of the opinion that what is going to transpire on October 30th will amount to some sort of super-corrupting thought-crime that might cloud the minds of their employees and leave them with an array of baffling new opinions. In nearly every case, reporters are to treat the Rally/March as a "political event," though it's not clear what explicitly political outcome they expect to arise as a result. There is a deep worry, I gather, that it might instill bias in their reporters that could lead to -- well, I'm not sure! I guess that's why no one can take the chance!

Because I am not some sort of whinging paranoid moron, I prefer to take Jon Stewart at his word that the event will be something that promotes reason and sanity, and which might be marginally enjoyable, because comedians are involved. Obviously, I reserve the right to dutifully report whether the whole thing devolves into something else -- like a massive call to sell Amway products or an urging that I jump into a woodchipper to save the Harry Reid campaign, or something.

In general, the guidelines look like this: reporters may ATTEND the rally, but only if they are COVERING the rally. They cannot go to the rally and, you know, have a good time. And I gather that it would be very dangerous if anyone actually agreed with the theme of the rally -- which I remind you, seems to be "Be reasonable." I have to say, I basically want to abduct a bunch of reporters now, truss them up, toss them in the back of a van, and turn them loose at the rally, just so I can see their eyes widen in terror as they flee the area, fearful that they might become infected by "ideas."

Of course, I've no idea how any of these news organizations will police the activity of their employees who might watch the proceedings at home on television, where the insidious virus of reason might somehow have the same magical effect on their minds as the popular ShamWow commercials. And I have no idea how reporters are going to "cover" the rally without "attending" the rally and potentially "enjoying" the rally. But I imagine it will be something like this:

WASHINGTON, DC -- Under Saturday's [sunny skies/autumnal cloud/driving hailstorm/tornado of poop], [X NUMBER] people flocked to Washington, DC's National Mall, to attend the Rally To Restore Sanity. It lasted three hours, during which time people stood and listened to speakers, who told jokes, and also said other things.

The majority of attendees seemed to be familiar with the Washington, DC-Metropolitan area, but many appeared to have arrived from other geographic locations, apparently availing themselves of a national transportation infrastructure that includes interstate highways and local roads.

At a glance, the rally shared many of the features as similar events held on the public spaces in Washington, DC. For example, there was a stage, equipped with microphones, which successfully amplified the voices of the speakers to a volume that far exceeded the standard human speaking voice. Through the aid of these devices, the speakers told "jokes" -- an elaborate form of subjective communication in which a "punchline" is delivered after a long set-up. Speakers asserted, through oratory, that there was a collectively-held ideal, distinct from actuality, and when the two were juxtaposed, it created "comedy."

There were many moments that caused the assembled to have very public reactions, such as laughter or applause. Body-language experts confirmed to this reporter that the attendees were evincing behaviors and manifesting gestures and facial expressions that could reliably be seen as evidence that they were enjoying the proceedings.

Some of these rally attendees carried signs with them, in a manner akin to any number of similar events. But it was here that this particular gathering distinguished themselves, in that the slogans found on their signs did not seem to uphold any definitive point of view. If they spoke to the crowd's larger passions at all, they were, in tone, curiously muted. According to Todd Oakley, professor of English and cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University, these attendees' signs were intended to carry messages of "ironic intent." But even this is disputable. While academic elites hold that irony is the "use of words to convey a meaning that is opposite of their literal intention," the conventional wisdom holds that irony is like "10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife."

The speakers at the rally did not address the conditions that gave rise to this overabundance of spoons, and this reporter was not immediately able to lay hands on any sort of recent study of this crisis by the Cato Institute.

The overall theme of the rally was the promotion of "sanity," which strictly defined, refers to "the quality or condition of being sane, soundness of mind." One of the event's main speakers, Jon Stewart of New York City, maintained at length that the promotion of "sanity" was a virtuous endeavor. However, it's worth pointing out that another speaker -- Stephen Colbert, also of New York City -- presented a competing idea, namely, that we should all be subsumed with irrational fear at all times. As both points of view seem equally valid to me, I haven't the means of reconciling these competing ideas.

Curiously, body-language experts on the scene confirmed that the attendees seemed to be giving each point of view equal approval -- at times, it seems, simultaneously. Snap polls conducted by Opinion Dynamics seemed to bear this out. Rally attendees expressed widespread approval for both Stewart and Colbert in equal measures, and, according to the polls' internals, they manifested this equal approval with full knowledge of the fact that the two men espoused radically disparate ideas.

At the conclusion of the rally, attendees left the vicinity, apparently using the same means by which they came to the rally in the first place. Hours later, the light in the sky began to diminish until it was almost completely dark. This did not seem to come about as an effect of the rally itself. Rather, it was presumed that the darkness was caused when the great ball of yellow fire in the sky disappeared below the horizon. There is widespread speculation that the great ball of yellow fire in the sky will return in just a few hours, but that could not be confirmed at the time of this report.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to tv@huffingtonpost.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]