Taylor Branch on Jon Stewart's great risk
Jon Stewart's announcement last Thursday of his "Rally to Restore Sanity" on Oct. 30 has, not surprisingly, generated significant interest from"Daily Show" fans. (The current number of people signed up on the rally's Facebook page is 140,000). But it also prompted some confusion, even from longtime fans. What is Stewart trying to achieve? Does this mark a more formal embrace of politics? Will this change the way he's perceived?
Salon spoke to Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning civil rights historian and scholar of mass political movements, about Stewart's role in popular culture and politics and what benefits and risks the rally holds for him. (We also asked Branch about the controversial New York Times Op-Ed he recently penned expressing sympathy for Glenn Beck's 8/28"Restoring Honor" rally.)
What do you think the goal of Stewart's rally is?
Well, I don't know. He always says his job is straightforwardly to entertain and poke fun at the news.
Do you think that's true?
Do I believe him? I don't know. He has stepped out of that role a couple of times. Years and years ago he went on"Crossfire," on CNN, and scolded them, saying that they were just entertaining people with emotional argument for argument's sake, without any interest whatsoever in asking any questions or solving any problems. And that therefore it was just entertainment -- and that that was his job. That seemed to be a foray into serious politics, you know, saying,"I'm supposed to be the clown, not you guys." I don't know whether that's what he has in mind here or not, because he hasn't really said. But I think whenever people in a public position like that do things that are unexpected, that involve some sort of surprise and or risk, we need to pay attention to what they say, because maybe it'll provoke something new.
comments powered by Disqus
- New documentary explores the legacy of the 5,000 Rosenwald schools set up by a Sears magnate and Booker T. Washington
- Rare silent Native American movie of 1920s attracting a lot of interest
- It happened in Idaho and was the largest massacre of Indians in US history, but where exactly did it take place?
- Junípero Serra’s Missions Destroyed Entire Native Cultures. And Now He’s Going to Be a Saint.
- Isis destruction of Palmyra's Temple of Bel revealed in satellite images
- Two scholars from UT object to the Texas school's decision to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis
- A history professor explains why Americans are so prone to conspiracy theories
- Now Greg Grandin has come out with a study of Henry Kissinger
- Japanese historian upends the familiar narrative of WW 2 by taking a bottom up approach, focusing on fascism from the grassroots
- Holocaust-denying historian David Irving organises 'disgusting' £2,000-a-head holiday tours of former concentration camps and Hitler's HQ so people can 'make up their own mind about the truth'