Stewart Takes on O’Reilly

I missed this interview by about three days, but I thought I would post it here because it is so surreal.

Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly could not be any more different.

A very bizarre interview, but entertaining, nevertheless.

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
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26 Responses to Stewart Takes on O’Reilly

  1. pino says:

    A very bizarre interview, but entertaining, nevertheless.

    I thought Stewart won.

      • Why’s it unfortunate? In this instance, Fox was pushing faux, unjustified outrage. Hooray, lesson learned, facts established. Springsteen, Dylan, Bono would never be allowed to go to the White House if O’Reilly actually believed what he’s saying in this instance.

        This doesn’t result in an edict from the government that everyone has to enter a gay marriage, or anything. It’s just getting us to a higher level of understanding.

        Now, the greater lesson learned is, I admit, more contestable. Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch and run by Roger Ailes, is a “selective outrage machine.” The executive branch has had numerous “czars” for decades– I believe Bill Bennett was the first, under Reagan, to claim the term– but only under Obama did Fox pretend to be outraged about it. When a Fox News anchor accurately reported that 2000-2009 was on track to be the warmest decade in recorded history, a memo came out 15 minutes later instructing all Fox personalities to cast doubt on that fact if they were to mention it. Earlier reports, from the Bush era, indicated that a memo came out each day directing its on-air personalities how to spin the news. And early in the Bush era, Fox News viewers were more likely to believe falsehoods that supported the decision to invade and occupy Iraq (pdf of a study to that effect).

        Again, none of this means that now people aren’t allowed to pray in public or make more than $75,000 per year; it just means that Fox is not a news network.

        • I think it is a bit much to say that Fox is not a news network, as it would be to say MSNBC or CNN are not networks. Is Fox News slanted to the right? Absolutely. Similarly, MSNBC and CNN are slanted to the left. It is what it is.

          Also, I don’t mean to open a can of worms here, but what falsehoods are you talking about in Iraq?

        • Moe says:

          Sean – I’m a news junkie as you no doubt know. FOX indeed spins right. MSNBC indeed spins left.

          But CNN? How do they qualify as left? To me, they’re about as left as The Weather Channel. That’s a serious question. I simply don’t know how you get there.

          • Personal anecdotes.

            A friend of mine was relaxing in Ramadi, Iraq, drinking a near beer, while CNN was reporting “widespread chaos” in Ramadi at the same time. Since the insurgents were trying to kill people like my friend, I’ll believe his version of the story over CNN’s. CNN’s negative coverage of the military long before 9/11 was so pervasive that most folks in the military called it the Communist News Network.

            Here’s another example from “serious journalist”, not analyst, Anderson Cooper:

          • Actually, the Weather Channel is extremely far left.

            Obviously, I’m kidding…;-)

        • Fox is in a different category from CNN or MSNBC. CNN has a centrist bias. MSNBC has a GOP congressman with a center-right bias on for like 3 hours every morning, and has a conventional news operation, then opinionated people on at night. Neither of those networks has daily memos from on high directing how the news is to be presented that Fox has. Fox is part of a right-leaning media empire; MSNBC’s sister network, CNBC, has a right-leaning bias if anything.

          Sorry I failed to link the study above; here it is. Fox News viewers were more likely to believe the falsehood that most/much of the world supported invading Iraq, the falsehood that we found the WMD we’d said we were looking for, and the falsehood that Saddam supported al Qaeda.

          It seems to me inarguable that the traditional media is not, in fact, left-leaning. Consider this study:

          The study began one week before and ended one week after Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5 presentation at the U.N., a time that saw particularly intense debate about the idea of a war against Iraq on the national and international level. More than two-thirds (267 out of 393) of the guests [on ABC, PBS, NBC, and CBS’s nightly news shows] featured were from the United States. Of the U.S. guests, a striking 75 percent (199) were either current or former government or military officials. Only one of the official U.S. sources– Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.)– expressed skepticism or opposition to the war. Even this was couched in vague terms: “Once we get in there how are we going to get out, what’s the loss for American troops are going to be, how long we’re going to be stationed there, what’s the cost is going to be,” said Kennedy on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03).

          Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch & run by Roger Ailes, is an open and avowed part of the Republican Party’s messaging. There’s nothing comparable on the Democratic side. Doesn’t mean that the regular media’s coverage is flawless & beyond reproach in all particulars, but in this regard, they are not the same kind of animal as Fox.

          • OK, two out of three of the items you mentioned as falsehoods are, indeed, false.

            Saddam did, indeed, support al Qaeda, just not against the United States. His security services loosely interacted with Ansar al Islam as a check against the Kurdish rebels in the north. Ansar al Islam ultimately was directed by al Zarqawi, who US military forces ultimately killed.

            On the study you released, the reason so many people in favor of the war were featured, was because most politiicans at the time were in favor of the war. The House voted 296-133 in favor and the Senate voted 77-23 in favor. Additionally, most of the people featured were US citizens because the United States was the country that was going to fight in said war. Who cares what Sudan has to say if they are not involved in either side of the conflict? Additionally, Ted Kennedy was likely the only Senator that wanted to put himself out there as being against the war. The rest likely feared the political consequences of not backing the President for better or worse.

            If you think MSNBC is not as bad as Fox News, you are seeing the world through some seriously filtered glasses. For instance, on the rebuttal to Senator Kyle’s SNAFU on his Planned Parenthood data, MSNBC also reported the wrong data, which conveniently skewed in the left’s direction. The only way I figured it out is I reviewed Planned Parenthood’s annual report.

        • Let’s leave for another day specifics about the way the Saddam-AQ connection was spun, and the question of guests on shows. (I’m inclined to mildly disagree, may well be wrong on both counts, but it’s a bit of a digression in this thread).

          No, MSNBC is not like Fox. There’s no systematic effort to spin the regular news, as directed from management and ownership, as there is at Fox. There’s no equivalent to lifelong GOP operative Roger Ailes and right-wing global media emperor Rupert Murdoch at NBC. Fox would never put some mildly left-leaning Democratic former rep on the air in the morning, as MSNBC does with GOP former congressman Joe Scarborough.

          Here’s what things are like there:

          the roots of FNC’s day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel’s daytime programming, The Memo is the bible.

          One Fox worker reported that he knew the Bush White House had thrown Trent Lott overboard when he saw Fox anchors repeatedly noting that Lott had made similar statements about Strom Thurmond and “those problems” in the past.

          Here’s something about how Fox spun, as a matter of policy, the popular, deficit-reducing, erstwhile public option:

          “I have no idea what the Republicans were pushing or not,” Sammon said. “It’s simply an accurate, fair, objective term.” (Republican pollster Frank Luntz explained to host Sean Hannity a few months earlier on air why it would be more effective to use “government option” as a way to rally against the proposal.)

          I’m sure you can find inaccuracies in reporting at MSNBC. You will not be able to find the systematic spin, and the directives from management and ownership, that you see at Fox.

          • I won’t argue with you whether MSNBC’s spin is management-directed or not. I frankly don’t if it is. But its spin is decidedly liberal and biased. If what you say about Fox News is true, and I have no evidence on hand to dispute it, then its bias is more top down, while MSNBC’s is bottoms up.

            Part of this liberal bias in the media is simply a matter of self-selection. Most conservatives never enter the journalistic profession. Nor do they flock to the social science disciplines at universities. Many either join the military or go into/run businesses. But I digress.

            One example is the contrast between how the media ran the Abu Ghraib story and the Afghan murder story. The media blamed President Bush for Abu Ghraib, but did not blame President Obama for the far worse murders of Afghan civilians in Kandahar province in February 2010 (I don’t think either President had any idea these things were happening).

            Anyway, just my two cents.

            The bottom line is that bias is more often a matter of how a story is presented or which stories each network covers. As such, whether bias exists is most often in the eye of the beholder rather than any absolute truth.

        • Moe says:

          Sean, you say:

          [Part of this liberal bias in the media is simply a matter of self-selection. Most conservatives never enter the journalistic profession. Nor do they flock to the social science disciplines at universities. Many either join the military or go into/run businesses.]

          Probably true. Which is why there’s a conservative instinct, an anti-liberal instict if you will – in busiiness, the military and especially on Wall Street.

      • Vern R. Kaine says:

        Reflectionephemeral said, “You will not be able to find the systematic spin, and the directives from management and ownership, that you see at Fox.

        I highly doubt that. Companies (and networks) have to protect and promote their brand, and brand orders come from the top.

        With respect, I believe to think that Fox is the ONLY network to get spin orders from above and that the other networks don’t run as regular companies do is naive. If the commentators can be told to “tone down” their arguments (, they can certainly be told to tone them “up” as well. I believe we have yet to see any internal emails from MSNBC or CNN yet at all, have we? It may be a rush to judgment to just assume they’re all pure.

        • Moe says:

          Vern – let’s not forget that until Comcast bought it a few months back, NBC et all were owned by GE, the company that created Ronald Reagan and the largest military contractor in the world. If there were orders from ownership (a la Murdoch), I doubt they’ were liberal.

        • Vern R. Kaine says:

          For sure, Moe. News is business first, information second, and we should face it – if anyone really wanted unbiased and pure “news”, we’d be saying Fox and MSNBC Who? Those who preach Fox as gospel are just as unrealistic as those who preach MSNBC or CNN as gospel, in my opinion.

        • Moe says:

          Actually Vern, news isn’t necessarily business first, news second. Some of hte very best news sources in the world are non profit or subsidized by governements.

          The News Hour, the BBC World News – probably the very best in broadcast/cable news there is. The CSpan networks – especially Washington Journal do such a fine job.

          As the newspapers are losing revenue and cutting back their news operations, there are all kinds of ideas popping up out there about non profit investigative news operations funded somewhat like CSpan or by foundations etc.

          We are, thankfully, not prisoners of FOX of MSNBC. I still say I don’t see any partisan slant on CNN, but then I don’t see any decent journalism either. (Except Fareed Zacharia who is superb.) And sometimes Anderson Cooper hits a sweet spot. Sometimes. I miss Aaron Brown.

    • Vern R. Kaine says:

      So did I. The weakness of O’Reilly’s argument to me was shown well when Stewart made the distinction that Common talked about two cop killers that he thought were wrongly convicted. That’s quite a ways from “praising” and “promoting”.

      I didn’t see how O’Reilly’s poll came out asking his viewers who won – did you?

  2. Moe says:

    Yeah, Stewart won. O’Reilly tries (but fails) to play ‘gotcha’. Stewart doesn’t rise to the bait. And you can tell O’Reilly really likes the guy.

    They did this a year or two ago – O’Reilly tried to say Stewart had responsiblity as a journalist – Stewart chuckled and said “Bill, I’m a fake news show and I’m followed by a trash talking puppet show.”

    • Yeah, O’Reilly some times has a tendency to out-shout or out-confidence his competitor in a debate. Sometimes this intimidates the person he is interviewing even if that person has a better argument.

      Stewart, obviously, wasn’t intimidated.

    • Vern R. Kaine says:

      I remember that one, Moe. It was great – he owned him there, too. Stewart’s pretty sharp, as many comedians are.

  3. jcrue says:

    I have to agree with both of you. Stewart used reason and logic to dismantle O’Reilly’s argument. Just think of the list of people who have been to the White House who, under scrutiny, would have a checkered past or ill-received opinions…

  4. Moe says:

    By the way, O’Reilly’s show polled their viewers and asked who ‘won’ the debate. 71% said Stewart had the better argument.

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