In anticipation for Saturday night’s “Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium,” The Daily Show set the stage for the highly anticipated debate between Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart at George Washington University. Among the popular talking points were O’Reilly’s new book Killing Kennedy, the first presidential debate, and Stewart’s unconventional training regimen for “the rumble.”
Stewart kicked off the show by asking whether there was a “Fox News Obama debate baby boom” as a result of Romney’s debate victory last night. Stewart went on to say Killing Kennedy sounded like a “confession” by O’Reilly. The O’Reilly Factor host quickly retorted by saying, “Killing Lincoln was a huge success,” referring to his New York Times bestseller for 42 straight weeks, which generated laughs from that audience as O’Reilly’s statements implied that he himself killed Lincoln and Kennedy. Stewart gave O’Reilly’s book a rousing endorsement by saying, “Please buy it because lord knows this man needs money.”
Although the interview was mostly in jest, both Stewart and O’Reilly showed that they are well aware of their debate audience on Saturday. Stewart commented that O’Reilly is “dealing with a different demographic” as the George Washington University spectators will be mostly younger, liberal-leaning, college students that revere Stewart much more than O’Reilly. It will be intriguing to see if a question is raised over Romney’s 47% comments, as O’Reilly has defended the statements as partially true in regards to Romney’s voter demographic. Odds are, since most college students fall within the 47%, it will not be a popular talking point; however expect O’Reilly to reinforce this point.
The Stewart – O’Reilly debate will have many fireworks. The two are taking it very seriously and training for it as presidential candidates would. Stewart quipped that his debate preparation consisted of “Stephen Colbert and a chicken,” saying that his lighting-fast quickness would over power O’Reilly. In reality, both are incredibly accomplished journalists that speak to completely different demographics and whose opinions are influential in American politics. Likewise, expect a very substantive debate that will show off both O’Reilly and Stewart’s humor but also different perspectives for America in 2012.
Do not expect Stewart and O’Reilly to be Obama and Romney campaign surrogates, respectively. It is pretty clear that Stewart will be casting his vote for Obama, while O’Reilly will choose Romney, however they will both hold the candidates accountable for their statements during their debate. Put on the spot, neither will go out of their way to endorse a candidate, which is a great reason to tune in. During the Stewart – O’Reilly debate, they will actually talk about the issues in an educated manner that is wholly separated from purely partisan politics. They do not have the burden of running for office or appeasing a specific audience. Regardless of who “wins,” both hosts will see a spike in their viewership. The incentive is pride and the desire of both to get straight to the issues.
The Stewart – O’Reilly debate will grab headlines and generate laughs, but more importantly it will play a large role to inform. In true Michael Buffer fashion, “Lets get ready to rumble!”
For a full recap and results, including takeaways and who won the debate, see here.