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My Ordeal with Jon Stewart and His ‘Cone of Silence’ Event

Want a press pass? Dear Leader cannot be reached at this time.

by
Richard Pollock

Bio

October 29, 2010 - 3:15 pm
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Interacting with Comedy Central over the upcoming Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity, or the March to Keep Fear Alive, or the This Is Not a Political Rally rally is much like trying to communicate with North Korea’s Kim Jong II.

I have been conducting a long-distance email relationship with Steve Albani, Comedy Central’s vice president for corporate communications. I am trying to get press credentials to cover the event for PJTV. Here are my unedited email conversations with Mr. Albani:

Me: Hope all is going well with your planning for the D.C. rallies. Could you please give us any updated information concerning pre-rally press conferences and avails for next week? Will there be press avails prior to or after Jon Stewart’s interview with the president?

Albani: Jon will not be doing any press prior to the October 30 rallies.

Me: I also understand Jon will be broadcasting his show from D.C. next week. What rules will you have governing outside broadcast camera access, sprays and shooting for Jon’s show here?

Albani: we are not allowing crews inside the studio during the week of tapings in Washington

Me: We will be bringing correspondent Alfonzo Rachel to cover the rally. Could you please have one of your staff add him to your list of participating press?

Albani: did she apply for a credential on our online application site? If not, a credential is TBD, since the deadline to apply was yesterday.

Just a note that Alfonzo is a he, which Albani might have noted from where I referred to Alfonzo with the masculine “him.”

I emailed Albani today, and received this auto-reply:

If this is about the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Otherwise, you just might have to wait until Monday.

“Thank you — we hope you enjoyed your visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles!”

Actually, I am not feeling sorry for myself, as I realize I am in the same stupefied boat as the rest of the media in this town and elsewhere in this nation — trying to make sense of the Stewart event. The Washington Post’s total insider, Paul Farhi, noted on Monday of this week that Comedy Central was as tight-lipped as Charlie Sheen’s publicist:

With less than a week to go, it’s still not exactly clear how Stewart will be using this new platform. No guests or musical acts have been announced, Stewart has done only a couple media interviews, and he’s offered few details about the rally.

Here, the New York Times Bill Carter and Brian Stelter describe Mr. Stewart’s open, transparent, and freewheeling public event for change and reasonableness:

Mr. Stewart declined interview requests and has offered little description of what is planned. He also has apparently lowered a cone of silence over members of his staff and executives at Comedy Central, which will broadcast the rally live.

Even Judy McGrath, the chief executive at MTV Networks, the parent company of Comedy Central, also has not divulged many details. “Whatever you think it’s going to be, it’s probably not going to be that,” she said last week.

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