Inside D.C. entertainment

Washington Post newsroom bans Stewart, Colbert rally participation

October 14, 2010 - 01:51 PM
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NPR isn't alone in banning its newsroom employees from participating in the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies later this month. According to The Upshot's Michael Calderone, the Washington Post, New York Times, ABC, and NBC News all have similar policies. At issue is whether the "Rally to Restore Sanity" and "March to Keep Fear Alive" are mere entertainment or political as well. Dana Davis Rehm, NPR's senior vice president, says it's "ambiguous," adding, "But their rallies will be perceived as political by many, whatever we think." The Post agrees, if this memo sent to news staffers is any indication:

Events, like those organized by Glenn Beck or involving Jon Stewart and Steven [sic] Colbert, are political, and therefore Post newsroom employees may not participate. By participate, we mean that Post newsroom employees cannot in any way put themselves in a position that could be construed as supporting (or opposing) that cause. That means no T-shirts, buttons, marching, chanting, etc. This guideline does not prohibit Post newsroom employees from observing—that is, watching and listening from the sidelines. The important thing is that it should be evident to anyone that you are observing, as journalists do, not participating, whether you are covering the event or not.

One major media organization is conspicuously missing from the article: Fox News. Perhaps it's assumed that Fox reporters wouldn't willingly spend their Halloween weekend with Stewart and Colbert? In any case, some of them will have no choice, as the channel has announced it will cover the rallies; MSNBC remains undecided.

Related news:

• Stephanie Foo, a producer of NPR show Snap Judgment, tweeted, "If 'We are all NPR' then I am probably NPR's armpit. No Jon Stewart rally for me!" (All she needs is a fake mustache.)

• In a Bloomberg poll, 19 percent of respondents had "very favorable" feelings about Stewart; 20 percent "mostly favorable"; 12 percent "mostly unfavorable"; 13 percent "very unfavorable"; 36 percent "not sure." Glenn Beck's numbers were worse, with 27 percent "very unfavorable."

• A writer for the Jerusalem Post wants Stewart to hold a rally in Israel.

• The Huffington Post has a large photo gallery of rally signs, including "Support Your Right to Arm Bears."

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