The match was perfect. On Oct. 6, Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart stepped up to podiums in order to make their respective cases for the nation’s ailments and what they believe it will take to bring the nation back on track. The topics ranged from funding NPR to entitlements, the tax code and foreign policy, all the while being extremely entertaining. Throughout the debate, both O’Reilly and Stewart constantly spoke over E. D. Hill, the moderator, which was more than reminiscent of how the presidential candidates treated the moderator of their debate.
The opening statements set the stage for the rest of the debate, with both sides claiming that the other was absolutely incorrect. O’Reilly made the argument that Obama’s policies were causing the nation to become addicted to entitlements and railed against the huge increase of the number of people that are claiming disability from the government.
Stewart immediately challenged him with a statement that set the tone for the rest of the debate: “My friend Bill O’Reilly is completely full of shit.” He continued by claiming that the reason more people are on disability and food stamps is because a larger number of the population currently needs the help from the government because of the economy. In this exchange, Stewart caused the crowd to erupt with applause by asking “Why is it that if you take advantage of a tax break and you’re a corporation you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something that you need to not be hungry, you’re a moocher? It’s ridiculous!” Stewart had a number of zingers throughout the debate, while O’Reilly came prepared with some visuals to illustrate his points.
Stewart fumbled on the national debt by assuming that because there was a budget surplus under Clinton we didn’t have any debt, but O’Reilly was quick to point out the inconsistency.
When asked about media bias, O’Reilly’s claim that his show is “fair and balanced” caused Stewart to scoff and take him on this statement. Stewart quoted a survey (without citing a specific one) which polled viewers of O’Reilly’s show, and appeared to state that most of his viewers believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim and most don’t believe in the Theory of Evolution. O’Reilly challenged him in response by basically dismissing the validity of the survey. Stewart didn’t hold his ground and let it slide.
After cooling down during some non controversial questions, the debate heated up once again when the subject was changed to foreign policy.
While O’Reilly stood steadfast beside his statement that the Muslim Brotherhood can’t be trusted, Stewart lambasted him by making clear the point that America only seems to support democracies in the Middle East when people it likes are elected. Stewart continued by questioning the idea that Obama projects weakness and calling it fiction.
The back and forth that occurred between the two competitors was very natural and flowing, most likely owing to the fact that they’re comfortable around each other and that this debate doesn’t have any real consequences to it.
In the end, the debate was a success and half of all profits will be donated to charities. Although the two rivals disagreed about almost everything in a civil manner, their friendship is still intact.