But there’s ample evidence that the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear drew as great or even more viewers than Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor.
The comedians’ three-hour event drew some 2 million viewers on Saturday, according to Comedy Central.
The event drew 1.1 million viewers 18-49, and 682,309 from 18-34. The cable net said that viewership was 3 1/2 times normal levels of that time period. The event also was shown on C-SPAN, which is not measured by Nielsen. There were 570,000 live video streams of the event, Comedy Central said, and more than 800,000 visitors to Rally related sites.
In comparison, Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor on Aug. 28, parts of which were shown across many different news outlets, drew 1.08 million viewers on Fox News, 729,000 on CNN and 283,000 on MSNBC.
The most contentious issue is just how many people attended the rally. Comedy Central says that 250,000 people were there, and the Washington Metro bolstered the case by sending out a press release saying that the event helped shatter Saturday ridership levels.
Beck told his radio listeners that “at least” 500,000 attended his rally. But the area around the Lincoln Memorial, where his event was held, makes up a smaller space than the area where the Stewart-Colbert event was, starting at 3rd street and stretching down the Mall to the Washington Monument.
Like it did for the Beck rally, CBS News commissioned AirPhotosLive.com to do an estimate of the event, and the service determined that 215,000 attended, compared to 87,000 for the Beck event.
Some non-media reaction. Henry Rollins writes on VanityFair.com, “Considering the long-term effects of what might be dropping on all Americans this week, it will be interesting to see what they make of the outcome. Personally, I would much rather see the Palin-loving, Beck-watching crowd get results they find infuriating and contrary to everything they have been convinced they stand for. I think the waves of sanity washing over them might take a little getting used to but would serve them better in the long run. No matter what the election results are, I don’t think things are going to quiet down or resemble anything approaching sanity at all.”
Here’s my take on the event that appeared in today’s Daily Variety.