Appearing on Crossfire in 2004, Jon Stewart argued that the show, and others like it, were “hurting America”:
At yesterday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Jon Stewart concluded with largely the same message, arguing that “if we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Despite the cancellation of Crossfire, the overall ratings for cable news networks have not decreased since 2004:
As somebody who has grown up with the rise of the internet and cable tv, I can’t pretend that I would like to go back to some earlier age despite downsides such as this. Clearly, cable news networks will not shut down as long as people are watching them and people seem unlikely to broaden their political horizons as long as they can connect with similarly-minded individuals in anonymous online forums.
What remains to be seen is whether those at the extremes will continue to bring viewers to cable news or whether the public will tire of these stories as the millenials graduate from college and begin to exercise political control. Twenty years from now, will we look at Jon Stewart’s remarks and the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up in Washington as a sign that sanity was indeed around the corner or will we still be wishing for sanity’s return?