- The Washington Times - Monday, October 18, 2010

RALLY ‘ROUND THE RALLY

Broadcasters can dream, can’t they? Though the National Park Service has yet to grant Comedy Central a “final permit” to stage a much-ballyhooed parody rally later this month, C-SPAN plans to cover the, uh, politicized gathering - which could still prove to be a canny publicity stunt. Remember, this all started as a joke - a “truthiness rally” - proposed by Sam Mercer, a blogger with the news site Reddit.com.

“C-SPAN Networks will provide live coverage of the entire Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, produced by Comedy Central and featuring Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert,” notes a missive from communications director Howard Mortman.

A cottage industry has sprung up. Naturally, Comedy Central is already marketing merchandise for the event, including a T-shirt emblazoned with the motto “I have a scream.” Pollsters are nibbling. According to Predicto, a “vote-by-text poll site,” 73 percent of the nearly 800 respondents expect “at least 50,000 people” to show up for the event. If there is one.

Despite Arianna Huffington’s promise to finance transportation for marchers, charter bus companies also are entering the fray - including an organizational enterprise called “D.C. Rally Bus.” Entrepreneurs Numaan Akram and Afraz Haque, who began their effort in late September, proclaim “Our ultimate goal: destroy Glenn Beck’s turnout for his small meeting on August 28th. We have never been so motivated.”

WIKI WATCH

Impatient buzz grows as the press awaits the rumored release of a half-million classified documents related to the war in Iraq, courtesy of whistleblower WikiLeaks.org and founder Julian Assange. There’s an identity crisis looming for journalists who must choose between informing the public and compromising national security or the safety of U.S. troops. The Pentagon has taken clear footing, deeming the documents “stolen” and cautioning the press against enabling Mr. Assange.

“The concern is that WikiLeaks as an organization should not be made more credible by having credible news organizations facilitate what they’re doing,” Pentagon spokesman U.S. Marine Col. David Lapan told journalists on Monday.

HALLOWEEN INDUSTRY

- $2 billion: Amount Americans will spend on Halloween costumes for adults, children and pets this year (National Retail Federation)

- $1.8 billion: Amount Americans will spend on Halloween candy (National Retail Federation)

- $1 billion: Amount they’ll spend on admission to a commercial haunted house (Haunted House Association)

- $30: Cost of a Sarah Palin vinyl mask (Halloween Adventure Super Stores)

- $25: Cost of a President Obama vinyl mask (Halloween Adventure Super Stores)

- $5: Cost of plastic glow-in-the-dark vampire fangs, box of 72 (Oriental Trading Co.)

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