O’Reilly and Stewart: two sides of the same dime
You may not have time to watch this whole interview between Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly but it’s worth a look if you get the chance.
Whether you’re actually interested in US politics or media or not, it’s a fascinating and civil exchange between two men who are arguably the two most influential commentators in America (assuming you take Oprah out of the equation).
One is a political satirist turned sometime serious political commentator and the other is political commentator who sometimes sounds pretty funny.
For all the ideological difference between the two they have a huge amount in common.
Besides the two both possessing a fantastic understanding of the medium in which they work, they’ve both become the first port of call for mainstream Democrats and Republicans into the political news of the day.
O’Reilly has the highest rating show out of all US news network programs, around 4.3 million viewers. And while Stewart’s ratings aren’t as huge, to get around 1.6 million views for his nightly program is extraordinary given he’s still on the Comedy Central.
It’s not the first time the two have spoken. They’ve sparred on each other’s shows a few times over the years, but it’s the first time since the election of Obama that they’ve talked.
Both have a grudging respect of each other, with mutual acknowledgment that neither is an apologist for the party that their associated with. Both regularly attack Republicans and Democrats, albeit often for very different reasons.
Stewart’s views on Obama show an increasing doubt about the way the President is handling the job:
“I can’t tell if he’s a Jedi Master playing on a three level chess board way ahead of us, or whether this is kicking his ass”.
His take on the success of Fox News (owned by News Corporation also owner of The Punch):
“You have been able to mainstream conservative radio.”
And this classic backhander to O’Reilly:
“You have become the voice of reason on Fox . . . which is like being told you’re the skinniest kid at fat camp.”
For his part O’Reilly successfully pointed out a few anomalies in Stewart’s on-going contention that there is unquestioning support at FOX for the GOP, pointing to the fact that both John McCain and Dick Cheney refused to appear on his program.
O’Reilly at one point describes Stewart’s audience as: “stoned out slackers who love Obama”.
But whatever you think of either of these two their approach and impact on the nation’s politics and media provides an insight into modern America in a way that no others presently can.
Part two of the interview is here:
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