U.S. election debate: the Stewart, O’Reilly factor

Sep 18, 2012 | News

O’Reilly interviews Stewart in a Sept. 2010 interview. COURTESY billoreilly.com

By Sarah Rix

Republican Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama may be gearing up for three presidential debates in October, but now television pundits Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly have also declared their own intentions to argue the issues.

Announced this week, the debate on Oct. 6 has been dubbed O’Reilly v Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium.

“We’ll be debating the state of the union and how the upcoming election is likely going to affect it,” said O’Reilly in a promotional video posted on The Rumble’s site.

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“Bill O’Reilly has a certain ideology that he’s always advancing,” Robert Colonel, president of the Yale Debate Association at Yale University, told Humber News.

O’Reilly’s Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor, generally caters to a conservative crowd in the United States. July 2012 statistics show him leading his 8 p.m. time slot with about 2.7 million viewers.

Stewart known for ‘fake news’

Stewart has no declared political leanings, but satirizes elected officials and news events on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. According to September 2012 ratings, Stewart leads all late night television shows. His “fake news” show draws approximately 1.4 million views a night – half of which are in the 18 to 49 year-old demographic.

Stewart tends to take a more “practical view” to politics, said Colonel, an economic and political science student at Yale.

“Oh yeah, it’s on. Stewart, O’Reilly, it’s happening,” said Stewart in his own promotional video for the debate. “You can see it on the Internet. That’s right. The same place you go to watch cats playing piano.”

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While Stewart generally takes a more a humourous approach to politics and debate, he and O’Reilly are no strangers to one another and have faced off in the past.

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

“The kind of person watching it will already be in one camp or another,” said Colonel, explaining it is unlikely the debate will have much impact on the election’s outcome.

Those watching for Stewart will likely go in supporting Obama, who is seeking a second term as president, and those watching for O’Reilly will likely lean toward Romney whose party hopes to retake the White House in November.

The 90-minute debate will take place in Washington, D.C., at George Washington University.

Limited tickets will be available online, ranging from $25-$100. Anyone who pre-orders the stream or buys a ticket to the event also has the opportunity to submit a written question that may be asked.

Stewart was to appear on The O’Reilly Factor on Tuesday to preview the debate.

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