Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert engage the kids. They also attract those on the political left.
With one month until the Comedy Central powerhouse rallies — Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” and Colbert’s satirically named “March to Keep Fear Alive” — on the National Mall, many are wondering: what the heck are these rallies really for?
“These rallies aren’t about anything,” Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller. “They are two performers doing their schtick.”
Stewart might not agree. According to Stewart’s official rally website, www.rallytorestoresanity.com, it’s a reaction to extremism from both sides of the political spectrum. The site states, “we’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler.”
But despite the propaganda Stewart is putting out about holding a rally “to restore sanity,” a recent survey of the type of viewers his show attracts seems to suggest that those Stewart thinks are “sane” may simply be known as Democrats.
According to a Pew Research Center study, released September 12, 64 percent of “The Colbert Report” viewers would consider themselves politically progressive, while 58 percent of those who regularly watch “The Daily Show” would label themselves as progressive. The shows’ audiences were also observed to consist of nearly twice the proportion of liberals than exist in the public at large.
Does this mean the National Mall is in for a liberal political gathering?
Stewart and Colbert say no, but the recent Pew Research study highlights the possibility for a youth political revival could be in the making.
“The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” have the youngest audiences of any outlet included in the Pew study, with the political humorists far outnumbering any other “news” programs in young viewership. More than half of those who regularly watch the “The Colbert Report” are between the ages of 18 and 29, and 41 percent in the same age bracket watch “The Daily Show” — with only 23 percent of American adults surveyed being younger than 30.
According to the study, “about as many young people regularly watch the Daily Show (13%) and the Colbert Report (13%) as watch the national network evening news (14%) and the morning news shows (12%).”
“It’s a reflection of how ineffective the news media is at reaching young audiences, they can’t appeal to them because the traditional media tends to be so fluffy as to not convey news and to lack the reasons why the news is important to people,” said Faiz Shakir, vice president at the Center for American Progress.
As to be expected, those progressive and young adult viewers are also in favor of the current administration.
Almost seven-in-10 viewers of both Comedy Central shows see the Obama administration as doing a satisfactory job, compared with Obama’s general approval rating of 44 percent in the latest Gallup poll.
Comedy Central, along with the political humorists, are currently playing up their upcoming rallies on October 30 as mainly entertainment, but could there be a more activist strategy in mind given the political make up of Stewart and Colbert’s viewership and the political viewpoint of the hosts?
“It’s not mutually exclusive,” suggests Shakir, who is also editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report. “Those who are going to the rallies are interested in not only hearing what substance they [Stewart and Colbert] try to highlight, but are wanting to go for entertainment.”