Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity Ignites Controversy

NPR forbids its jourmalists from attending the event

Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity is still weeks away, but it continues to make people a little crazy. We got our latest example of that yesterday, courtesy of an NPR internal memo that became a minor media controversy.

What happened, as NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher described it to Rolling Stone, was pretty straightforward: Some staffers had inquired as to whether rallying to restore sanity was allowed under the public broadcaster's ethics policy; NPR executives determined it was not; a pair of emails went out, specifically admonishing against rallying to restore sanity as part of a broader reminder about forbidden political activities. "This memo was really timed for pre-midterms, not to address the Stewart rally," says spokesperson Anna Christopher. "That really was a footnote."

But that did not stop the memo from becoming a story. (Still, Stewart did not address it on yesterday's show.) Here are three ways of looking at what transpired — all of which wind up highlighting why we need a Rally to Restore Sanity in the first place.

NPR was just protecting itself.if it actually happensSlateNPR just wound up revealing its secret agenda anyway.

We do not entirely follow this second theory. But it's out there. And if NPR can be seen as serving both left- and rightwing agendas, that's yet more evidence that the collective American psyche is suffering from a case of paranoid schizophrenia. (Stewart's rally won't cure that, but maybe it will help convince America that it needs to get some help?)

NPR is being a little ridiculousrecent interview with NPR's Terry Gross

If you take him at his word, the Rally to Restore Sanity is if anything not so much non-partisan as anti-partisan. Under that interpretation, what NPR has done is insist that its employees remain ruthlessly neutral about civility, moderation and open-minded discourse. Which is pretty silly, and gives people one more reason to turn to a comedian for a more reasonable take on where America is headed.