The Daily Show's is the "Rally to Restore Sanity," which purports to represent the 80% of the population who are not in the extreme for either side of the political spectrum and who don't tend to be heard by the alarmist parts of the media.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Rally to Restore Sanity|
Colbert's response is the higher satire of his show, which will seek to "keep fear alive" and defend those in the media who get ratings by talking about of what their audience should be afraid.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|March to Keep Fear Alive Announcement|
Some will interpret these events as efforts by those comedy programs as striving to exert legitimate political influence as Beck seems to strive to do.
Those people will be missing the joke.
Stewart, Colbert and Beck are all ultimately entertainers, but the difference seems to be that the hosts from Comedy Central have not forgotten that. What's the same is that both Stewart/Colbert and Beck benefit from what the other does; the Comedy Central late night shows have an ideal source of material to spoof in what Beck does, and Beck undoubtedly can spin their parodies as a flattering and legitimizing form of imitation. It's true that to make fun of something carries with it the connotation that the source material is important enough to be lampooned. That there is no satirizing Beck without strengthening his influence may be the strongest irony of all.
But that's no reason for them not to mine the lucrative vein that Beck has left.
Are there those who watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report and find the absurdities raised by those shows to be politically influential? Certainly. However, that I'd attribute not to a specific intent by those shows but because the people drawn to those shows don't feel themselves represented by the parts of the media that provide the fodder for what those shows point out as absurd.
It's an indirect influence at best. And not an intentional one.
(Even if you find distasteful the fact that comedy shows can be serious factors in the political spectrum, can we all agree that we're glad Craig Kilborn isn't trying this? And yes, I'm aware of the Kilborn File. Much as I wish I wasn't.)
Now, if only actual politicians were politically influential... oh, but that's really absurd.