Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly debate: Smackdown or love-in? (Video)

The 90-minute debate between O’Reilly and Stewart is advertised as “The Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium.” Photo: Jon Stewart has been a guest on "The O'Reilly Factor" several times AP

WASHINGTON,  October 4, 2012 — Forget about the Obama vs. Romney debate. Forget about Biden vs. Ryan. Want to see a real debate between the Right and the Left? How about Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart going mano-a-mano? Then the place to be would be the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC this Saturday, October 6 ­— if it weren’t already sold out.

Never fear, however, the two intrepid commentators/comics can still be seen on the Internet, live for $4.95, where you can watch the two titans from the comforts of your home (or job), streamed live or downloaded later at

The 90-minute debate between Stewart and O’Reilly is advertised as “The Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium.” (See video at the end of the column.)

The Rumble seems to be modeled on the presidential debate and advertises itself as “2 podiums. 1 Air-Conditioned Auditorium.” and promises that “O’Reilly and Stewart will take an entertaining and comedic approach to today’s pressing political issues in an attempt to find the best direction for America.”

More specifically, O’Reilly, who invited Stewart to debate him, explained, the Rumble “will cover five issues, like the economy, terrorism and ‘why Stewart’s a communist.’”

Billed as a Charity Fundraiser

Where will the money for the event, which is billed as a fundraiser, go? So far, the only thing we know is what their press release says: “Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Stewart will donate one-half of the net profits from ‘The Rumble’ to a number of charitable causes.” Certainly would be nice if those “charitable causes” had names. Maybe that could be a question someone from the audience could ask.

Bill O’Reilly, anchor of the FOX News Channel (FNC) “The O’Reilly Factor,” now touted as the most-watched cable news show, said he is ready to go head to head with Jon Stewart, the political satirist and host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” a 16-time Emmy winner. However, even though O’Reilly bemoaned that his show has never been tapped for an Emmy, he did win one back in 1970s for his coverage of a sky-jacking at Denver’s KMGH-TV.

No kidding.

“I’m excited to debate Mr. O’Reilly,” said Stewart. “I believe this will be a very enjoyable night for fans of our programs, political junkies, partisans and people who just enjoy yelling.”

“I had no idea my agent signed me up for this,” O’Reilly said. “How can I get out of it?”

Can They Be Friendly Adversaries?

Being more serious, O’Reilly admitted that he had no problem sharing the stage with Stewart, who has been a guest on his show several times as he has on “The Daily Show.” Although he did add that there’s little doubt whom the “left-wing media” will declare the winner, “no matter what happens. Jon Stewart doesn’t even have to show up. 

“I know that. What I’m going in for is a few laughs. I’m going to have my facts. I always do. I’m going to confound Stewart with the facts. He’ll confound me with his 16 writers.” Stewart shot back: “Oh, my God, it’s only one sentence and he’s already got his facts wrong.”

So it’s obvious they are already testing their best lines.

Will this be the best debate since Abe Lincoln and Stephen Douglas squared off in 1858? You would think so to listen to Stewart and O’Reilly, but both of these guys are great at hype.

“We’re actually going to talk honestly here,” O’Reilly explained. “With us, we’ll just let it fly: This is the way I feel, this is how I see it. There’s none of that censoring or calculating. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it.”

The real question for O’Reilly and Stewart, who seem to have a mutual admiration society, even if they vehemently disagree, is just how testy will the debate become? That’s why some people paid up to $75 a ticket just to see them let loose on each other. Yet Stewart admitted, “I enjoy talking to the guy. I find him very entertaining. He’s got a good sense of humor. He’s smart. I think he comes by his views honestly. I can’t say I agree with him.” Doesn’t sound too testy, does it?

After 90 minutes of going toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose, will O’Reilly start zapping with his dismissive one-liners? Will Stewart unleash his comedic derisive jabs? Will the two men get under each other’s thick skin and really rankle the other? Or will this be more like a love-in than a smackdown?

And the biggest question of all, will they both regret they ever agreed to the debate in the first place?

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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