Bill Maher criticizes the Jon Stewart rally

Bill Maher is a polarizing figure. You either love him or you hate him or you agree with his general stance on things but still find to be to kind of a prick. Fair. On his show last week he criticized The Rally to Restore Sanity/ or Fear, saying "If you're going to have a rally where hundreds of thousands of people show up, you may as well make it about something."

Way to be a soapbox-stander, Maher! But he is right that, while it's nice to point out fault on both sides, that doesn't make them equal. Keith Olbermann isn't the left's equivalent of Glenn Beck.

More than anything, this shows the difference between Colbert and Stewart and Maher. (That and the ratings.) If Maher held a rally, it would look very different than the one Jon and Stephen held. There'd be less Cat Stevens and more yelling, for one. Maher just doesn't seem to want to accept that they have different, less angry sensibilities. And even if you disagree that Stewart is any less vitriolic than Maher, we can all agree it would have been a really weird, awful choice to throw a Republic barn-burner at the National Mall with 200,000 people.

Commentarium (14 Comments)

Nov 07 10 - 6:47pm
Randlan

No - the Colbert/Stewart rally WAS dumb. The only people who are "moderates" in the US are "liberals". Having a rally to tell everyone to be respectful is stupid because 1) the people who would listen to the message were already converted and 2) being "respectful" is a silly idea when you consider that it is almost exclusively the right-wing supporters who are racist, ignorant, and make up facts.

Colbert and Stewart are the Chris Mooneys of political comedy

Nov 07 10 - 8:05pm
K

Agreed. The rally was dumb. I normally love the Stewart/Colbert pair, but the rally did absolutely nothing for me. The entire three hours was filled with awkward silences, jokes that weren't funny, and demonstrations that were completely pointless (the Mythbusters guys? Really?). The problem right now is the huge number of people who don't care about anything. And at the moment, Jon Stewart seems to be feeding into that apathy, with the notion that if you're apathetic, at least you're not crazy. With tea party endorsed candidates winning elections, with unemployment rates sky high and the worst economic depression since the Great Depression, people have a right to be angry.

Nov 07 10 - 9:43pm
LP

Loved the rally, love Stephen and Jon, love their satire. So there.

Nov 07 10 - 11:51pm
Me

Blah. I'm of the firm belief that people who trust TV personalities for anything news-related are idiots. There are better sources and better sources of opinions. You can't have an unbiased news source that cares about ratings. (Just look at how Olbermann is already back on MSNBC--maybe because his show is their highest rated hour?)

At least Stewart and Colbert are funny.

Nov 08 10 - 11:23am
sc

I think Maher's got a point. But if he had a rally, he'd never get hundreds of thousands of people to show up -- kind of a catch-22. I also think what Randlan wrote is all too true. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

Nov 08 10 - 12:15pm
profrobert

Maher's just jealous that he doesn't have the ratings or the respect. He carved out being an asshole comedian-commentator, sort of a Dennis Miller of the left, for himself. Now he's just bitter that Stewart and Colbert are just as effective without being assholes and therefore are much more popular.

Nov 08 10 - 12:19pm
Joe

Goddamnit, he's right. I really can't stand the guy, but he's right.

Nov 08 10 - 3:37pm
Randlan

Look, I LOVED the Colbert Report 5 years ago back when it was fresh (and he occasionally still has his moments of brilliance), and Stewart is usually right about his targets. Both are great comedians. But there seems to be this problem where people like Maher - who call others out on their shit - get called "dicks" for simply not compromising on their values (and I don't mean "values" in a right-wing extremist way). Like, "Oh, that Richard Dawkins is such a dick! Always telling religious people their ideas are stupid. What nerve!"

I love most of South Park, but the creators of that show get it wrong sometimes too. They are against public smoking bans, are climate change deniers, and think the Gnu Atheists are just like religious people. It's okay to appreciate someone's work when it's on target, but criticize the work that doesn't make sense.

Nov 08 10 - 10:17pm
MW

I love Stewart and Colbert's shows, but Maher is right about the rally. And his show is great as well.

Nov 08 10 - 10:56pm
M

Can I give the view from Canada? Our political system is so bland that we nearly crapped our pants when the Fear/Sanity rally came up. We can't get 200,000 people to show up to ANYTHING, let alone 20,000. Stewart and Colbert took on the fear and came up with something that we all could agree was a good idea. It's true: people seem to have stopped caring about our precious democracies - but at least they got a bunch of people outside for an afternoon to remind Americans that they live in America. Meanwhile Maher gets to play the smarmy righteous libertarian and produce films that would make Michael Moore blush for their lack of objectivity. So when he makes his own inspiring rally, we can talk about how bad Stewart, Colbert and 200,000 people made such a lame rally.

Nov 09 10 - 12:13pm
MW

Not sure how anything you just said has much to do with the point Maher actually made. An ad hominem attack is pretty much useless if you have nothing to say that actually addresses the issue. Thanks for the Canada update, though, I guess...

Nov 10 10 - 1:20pm
Jack

Hi....M...its Canada...could you shut the fuck up please. And you know its really Canada because I said please.

Nov 12 10 - 12:35am
Randlan

And I'm a Canadian living in Canada....

Dec 25 10 - 10:29pm
Him

I think Maher was totally right. It seems that a lot of the right-wing pundits use the rhetorical strategy of polarizing/categorizing everything by saying its either left or right, and then by claiming everything is 'relative', or all just a wash, that the left has its point of view and the right has its own, and they both have an equal weight of validity. It's bullshit. One needs to forget about whether something's left or right and look at it objectively, and consider who would stand to gain in real tangible, financial ways from certain governmental policies, military theatres, etc.. I think that's the point Maher was trying to make with the climate change example. And I think his criticism was constructive. He was saying that if Stewart and Colbert can rally that kind of support then they should mobilize it towards something real and tangible, like putting pressure on the government regarding climate change, or whatever.