10/27/2010 06:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rally To Restore Sanity's Roots: Facing The Crossfire

For the next few days, we'll be celebrating the upcoming Rally To Restore Sanity/March To Keep Fear Alive by highlighting the ways in which "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" have long advocated reasonableness. You're invited to take part! Remember a "moment of sanity" that was dear to you? Send me an email and tell me about it!


Armed with a slew of emailers who have discussed it, and having cited it twice myself, I think that today's as good a day as any to remind everyone of that time Jon Stewart appeared on the October 14, 2004 edition of CNN's televised temple of dumbed-down political discourse, Crossfire ("named after the stray bullets that hit innocent bystanders in a gang fight") and tore the show a new exit point for its alimentary canal. In a very contentious segment, Stewart put Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson on blast -- referring to the co-hosts as "partisan hacks," and begging them to "stop hurting America."

The event rooted much of the dissent that the Rally is now facing, as well. Accused of confronting then-presidential candidate John Kerry with softball questions, Stewart countered by saying he was surprised that "the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity." To many media critics, this was a dodge that permanently defined what the Daily Show does. But to normal people, like emailer Larry Alessandrini relates to me today, "Stewart basically laid the seed for his upcoming Rally, the premise of which is that the most extreme, insane voices get all the media attention. His biting critique of Crossfire illustrated that without a sane, rational, objective press in this country, sanity and civil discourse has no chance."

In January of 2005, CNN canceled Crossfire. And nobody who's worth even a blessed minute of your time misses it.


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