O’Reilly Hosts Stewart, Then Tries to Filibuster

See update below.

Bill O’Reilly just can’t help himself. The Fox News Channel host felt obliged to invite Jon Stewart on his program, then employed what’s currently a popular Republican tactic — the filibuster — to try and keep Stewart from getting his point across about FNC’s commitment to its “narrative.”

In a sense, O’Reilly was like a prizefighter, using his longer reach — and the advantage of some awkward editing — to keep Stewart from connecting with anything but glancing blows. But Stewart did land one haymaker, when he accused the Fox network of being an operation that has “taken reasonable concerns about this president … and turned it into a full-fledged panic attack about the next coming of Chairman Mao.”

O’Reilly didn’t really try to answer this, other than to say that it’s “only a couple of guys” at FNC who do that — and insisting, which provoked understandable amazement from Stewart, that Glenn Beck is “an Everyman,” not a surrogate for what’s admittedly the lunatic wing of the Republican Party.

Stewart also correctly noted that Fox News had managed to “mainstream conservative talkradio,” which has long been the key secret of the channel’s ratings success. In talkradio, listeners stay tuned longer than they do to newsradio. The fact that FNC viewers plant themselves in front of the set and stay there largely explains why Fox’s average audience is so much bigger than that of CNN, which functions more like newsradio. In radio, this defines the difference between average quarter-hour ratings and cumulative audience, or “cume.”

The truth, though, is that O’Reilly didn’t really want to engage in a debate with Stewart; he just wanted credit for having the ostensible courage to book him. Because O’Reilly’s world is increasingly insular — a place where he relies on “media analysis” from people like Bernard Goldberg, who will simply parrot back his opinions to him. On Tuesday, he chatted with Karl Rove, Dick Morris, and then brought in Dennis Miller after the Stewart interview to help him dissect it. In a rare two-fer even for Miller, he went out of his way not just to kiss O’Reilly’s ass, but Stewart’s as well.

Frankly, O’Reilly would be better off ignoring Stewart — and I’m not sure what Stewart hoped to accomplish by venturing into the lion’s den, other than perhaps the satisfaction of getting to question Fox’s tactics on its own air. The only problem was that O’Reilly kept stepping on his laugh lines, such as when Stewart called him the most reasonable of Fox’s heavy hitters, which he likened to being “the thinnest kid at fat camp.”

O’Reilly’s ego and thin skin make it difficult for him to overlook any criticism, which is why Keith Olbermann’s relentless attacks have driven him absolutely bonkers. Still, in the case of Stewart, the only advice I can offer is to echo what O’Reilly said to Stewart himself: “Wise up, man.”

Update: OK, so that was the review of Part One. I watched Part Two on Thursday, which was essentially more of the same, though O’Reilly was a little better about letting Stewart finish answers. That said, his preamble and post-interview discussion with Laura Ingraham were pretty much nonsense, and the latter completely misrepresented what Stewart said on Wednesday.

Still, my favorite part, not surprisingly, was when O’Reilly said that the coverage had been mostly fair, except for that by “vile, vile Fox News hater, Brian Lowry, who consistently embarrasses the paper he works for, Variety. I can’t believe the guy has a job.”

A few points here:

A) Check the record and you’ll see that O’Reilly has in the past referred to me as a “fair guy,” then a “liberal guy,” and finally a “Fox News hater.” None of this is based on any change in me, only in O’Reilly’s reaction to criticism. As I’ve said before, I admire O’Reilly’s success in building a franchise
out of nothing, but ever since the sexual-harassment allegations, he’s
become a different personality — one who sees “smear merchants” around every corner and critics as enemies.

B) If Variety hasn’t been utterly embarrassed by my ramblings yet — I mean, seriously, just see the “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” review — I somehow can’t imagine pointing out that O’Reilly is thin-skinned and lives mostly in an echo chamber will put management over the edge. But I’ll keep you posted.

C) If someone calls you thin-skinned, and you respond to that by calling them “vile, vile,” doesn’t that sort of reinforce the notion that you are, you know, “thin-skinned?”

D) Most of those millions of Fox News viewers probably have no idea what Variety is, much less who I am, which is another reason why O’Reilly’s jihads against TV critics have always amused me. If criticism upsets you so much, why call attention to it?

FINAL UPDATE: Gawker has gone to the trouble of documenting how many of Stewart’s most cogent points were left on the cutting-room floor — or rather, for the significantly smaller audience likely to go watch the entire interview online. If you have the time and inclination, it’s worth exploring the link.

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  1. Ken says:

    All I can say is welcome to America. You all have those rights because a group of people 200 years go decided it was worth the risk of allowing people like you to speak in order to get that freedom at a time when monarchies ruled the world.
    Fox News needs to remove the “News” from their moniker…I’m not that old and I still remember a time when journalism was supposed to be about objectivity even if it was difficult to manage–after all, we all have egos and opinions. The key though was they journalists generally used to strive for that objectivity. Those that didn’t weren’t journalists…they were personalities.
    Jon Stewart and most of the Fox News crew are personalities, not journalists. The difference between the two? Jon Stewart’s on the Comedy Channel, not the Comedy News Channel.
    Get over yourselves (both sides) and join the rest of us trying to keep this country moving forward. Wasting time trying to liberalize the world into a welfare state or sitting around spitting about how anyone one inch left of the middle is a communist does nothing to help that. You’re just wasting time and leaving us in the 20th century.

  2. scott peterson says:

    First off I find it amazing that people that like Bill will defend him by saying that he is an entertainer and that they just watch him for entertainment but also have the same ideals as him. There is a lot of people out there that watch him and take everything he says to heart and that’s a dangerous thing. The same goes for crazy Beck. Secondly I love the “Faux” News reference that Nicole F posted… very nice.
    People please think for yourself, both Jon and Bill have points but to lean to either the left or right will only make you wrong.

  3. Mick says:

    Leg, thank you for proving my point in my last post, the left also attacks as does the far right. I guess you have never misread or misspelled a word and if you would have noticed I did put the punctuation inside the quotation on my first use of punctuation. Sorry I didn’t know I was being graded, but I will try my best in the future. I praise the fact that you never make mistakes other than attacking people you do not know.
    Mike, if you read my first post you would notice that I actually agree with you. I said “This is not a knock on Brian who I am sure is just doing his job.” Had to make sure I got the punctuation inside the quotations, thanks Leg. But, remember it happens on both sides. Personally I wouldn’t want a country with only a left-wing or right-wing, although my views are to the right I have friends who are on the left. That doesn’t make them any less of a friend of mine only a difference in opinions.
    I hope everyone on the left and the right has a Great Super Bowl Sunday. Be safe and don’t drink and drive

  4. Mike says:

    The thing that amazes me and makes me laugh about these pro-Fox, so called ‘true’ Americans is just how tetchy they become when anything they believe in is called into question! Do they not know about freedom of expression – a basic right in, oh look…AMERICA.
    You don’t think we should nuke Iran?? Treason!!!
    You think Sarah Palin is playing up to her dumb hockey-mom image just to win an election?? Liar!!
    Hey, listen – let’s look at the bigger picture, there’s a whole world going on outside America, it’s not all about us. Think outside the box – do you really think just because Fox, or even their competitors, tell us something it’s necessarily 100% true? They’re in this business for PROFIT…much like most large corporations. Think about that next time you’re lapping up their every word.

  5. LEG says:

    “Uh, actually, that word was “sycophants”. It’s a 520 SAT word. Look it up before your next sycophantic post.”
    Hey Mick, punctuation goes inside of the quotation marks. I would have expected such a high SAT score guy like yourself to know that.

  6. PQ says:

    Posted by: Mick | February 04, 2010 at 07:30 PM
    ” Hey ML if you think the right is the only ones that “call evil anything or anybody they don’t agree with” you should probably read all the post on this board. Nicole was so kind to use Liberals favorite right wing slogan Tea Bag rather than Tea Party and John calling people sycopaths.”
    Uh, actually, that word was “sycophants”. It’s a 520 SAT word. Look it up before your next sycophantic post.

  7. PQ says:

    Posted by: Brooks Bayne | February 04, 2010 at 05:47 PM
    ” fact: foxnews kills all competition in the ratings. fact: most american’s trust foxnews over all other tv news sources, according to a recent liberal polling company’s poll. fact: the tea party is more popular than either major party, according to yet another poll. ”
    FACT: Being popular is not the same as being decent or being praiseworthy. Lots of stupid things are popular. Keep it up, Brooks Bayne, one day you might be popular too.

  8. Jobson says:

    Wow. A whole lotta loopy loonies suddenly descended on your blog, Brian. Now how in the heck did *that* happen?
    You don’t need to be told that point-for-point, you’re right on. I’d just like to throw this additional question out for discussion:
    What other “journalist” in the world “critiques” his own interviews after he conducts them? What other reputable news organization airs an interview as a meta “event”, embedded within a labyrinth of pre-game “commentary”, guest reactions, absurd polls (“Please grade this interview [bottom of screen note: not a scientific poll]”), and even body-language analysis? (The latter of which, Stewart cleverly lampooned with Wallace Shawn on his own show.)
    Airing interviews in this format, O’Reilly makes the tacit admission that 1)no, he’s not “fair or blanced”, 2) no, he’s not a real newsman, as he doesn’t have the chops to take on an interview subject with whom he disagrees without calling in backup, and 3) yes, as Stewart correctly brought up, he’s in the business of selling a slanted ideological narrative.
    If that wasn’t the case, the show would have opened with, “Hi, I’m Bill O’Reilly, sitting next to me is Jon Stewart, and for the next hour, we’ll be talking about issues important to us all.”
    Most bizarre moment of the second show: O’Reilly’s rambling introduction which tried to accuse all the great broadcasters of yesteryear of an ideological slant while denying that FOX News has one (can’t have it both ways, Bill).
    Most bizarre moment post-show: non-show-biz conservatives reading Variety.

  9. Sean says:

    Bill-O is a joke, Greta is a joke, Sheperd Smith is a joke. Hannity and Beck need to step on anti-personnel mines. The biggest joke is Bill-O claiming Hannity and Beck are the only slanted people on the channel. It blows my mind that those “millions” of viewers cannot tell that every minute of programming is attempting to program to viewers to a whacko right-wing mindset, from the red, white and blue graphics everywhere, right up to calling the president the “Anointed one.” How about the fact that most Fox viewers still think Saddam had something to do with 9/11. In the five minutes I can watch Fox News before throwing-up in my mouth, it’s noting but lies and the lying liars who tell them. At least MSNBC tells you flat our that they don’t like right-wing whackos, and don’t pretend they are giving a “fair and balanced” view

  10. Mick says:

    Hey ML if you think the right is the only ones that “call evil anything or anybody they don’t agree with” you should probably read all the post on this board. Nicole was so kind to use Liberals favorite right wing slogan Tea Bag rather than Tea Party and John calling people sycopaths. Just looking at things logically.

  11. Oh ok that’s all I have to do I was wondering how you register. Billy can be very obnoxious most times and calling you out was pretty low. I thought your column was pretty good but didn’t get most of it but you seemed pretty fair. I think he just does it to stir things up but that’s the only reason I’m here because I heard him talk about you and I love it when he stirs things up.
    But I’m not stupid enough to JUST listen to him and trust everything he says as truth, hardly. But sadly people do and they also sadly listen to Stewart and think that is news, it’s comedy and Billy is a bit of comedy too.
    So is he going to call me a hater too?
    Daniel ………… Toronto, Canada

  12. Not really sure what typekey means but I liked your article but not really sure what it said. I do watch Bill O but don’t always accept everything he says.
    Daniel ……..Toronto

  13. Nicole F says:

    So…..did Bill O’Reilly flash this url on the bottom of the screen during his “vile, vile Fox News hater” bit? Because I watched the interview, and I certainly didn’t see it. But sure enough the Faux News crazies are here, waving their red, white, and blue tea bags, …..asking for Brian Lowry’s birth certificate?
    Have they accused you of being a terrorist yet, Mr. Lowry? Or just a dirty socialist?
    Not yet? Oh. Well I’m sure the commentary will only go UP hill from here.
    In any case, an accurate review. Fair…..maybe even balanced.

  14. Mick says:

    What I find funny is how liberals think that there was editing for purposes of making Bill look good and the fact that Brian finds a need to critic this interview. It’s entertainment people that is why Bill has the ratings and makes money. Perhaps Brian is correct that Bill is thin skinned (I really don’t care). I watch Bill for entertainment and because my political outlook is very similar. This is not a knock on Brian who I am sure is just doing his job. Just an opinion and I’m not even getting paid.

  15. MS says:

    1st to ML Parker… Don’t believe everything you hear on Fox News Channel, the Bill O’Reilly show contacted John Stewart, not the other way around.
    2nd to Brian Lowry… Good article with some very good points. I think you are way more ‘fair and balanced’ then someone like Bill O’Reilly. What I always find funny about the concervative right is that all they do is complain about and call evil anything or anybody they don’t agree with, while the liberal left is open-minded and willing to look at all sides logically. The Right ends up looking ridiculous and the Left ends up dropping the subject because they are basically talking to a brick wall.

  16. Big Dumb Ape says:

    Lowry wrote (quote): “The truth, though, is that O’Reilly didn’t really want to engage in a debate with Stewart; he just wanted credit for having the ostensible courage to book him. Because O’Reilly’s world is increasingly insular — a place where he relies on “media analysis” from people like…”, at which point he inserted a few names, guests who regularly appear on THE FACTOR.
    That made me laugh out loud because Lowry then rounded out his assertion by writing (quote): “O’Reilly’s ego and thin skin make it difficult for him to overlook any criticism, which is why Keith Olbermann’s relentless attacks have driven him absolutely bonkers.”
    Well, if Lowry is SO interested in “the truth” and balanced reporting… as well as preferring a show where guests are allowed to offer genuine opposing views that will challenge the host… since he chose to bring up the name in this piece, I’ll be waiting with baited breath for Lowry’s review OF Keith Olbermann’s COUNTDOWN — well, that is whenever Olbermann grows enough of a spine to even let someone with an opposing view appear on his show. It’s truly laughable that Lowry would even point to a person like Olbermann considering that literally EVERY single world he threw against O’Reilly in this review could be directed at Olbermann as well, without any question.
    But a funny thing — you can bet we’ll never see THAT review posted here…

  17. Sasha Thomas says:

    Well said, Brian! It’s too bad O’Reilly has five accounts and writes in to vent his personal ire at you, but any disinterested reader of this piece will know how true it is. Stewart was mercilessly edited down, as a view of the entire interview on Fox’s site will show. Jon certainly won this showdown, with every serious point striking home, and O’Reilly simply denying what Fox News is.

  18. JOHN LEAR says:

    i would guess that most of the comments ahead of me were planted by o’reiLly and his sycophants…..i saw the interview,as i monitor o’scumbag nighty as i do glenn beck…….someone needs to and many intelligent people can’t stomach the constant mean spirited,PARTISAN lies and distortions…….
    as far as the interview being available in full on the web site,that’s just to somewhat placate stewart……BUT I GUARANTEE that it was effectively edited to the max to minimize perceived damage to billo’s EGO……

  19. Brooks Bayne says:

    “wise up, man”???? lol. what a typical liberal hollywood bias.
    utter garbage in this variety piece. hence, why they have zero readership.
    variety’s new tagline: guttersnipes are us. this isn’t about the interview as much as it is brian’s hatred for anything other than a progressive point of view.
    fact: foxnews kills all competition in the ratings. fact: most american’s trust foxnews over all other tv news sources, according to a recent liberal polling company’s poll. fact: the tea party is more popular than either major party, according to yet another poll. of course, if you don’t like conservatism, go join the couple hundred thousand ppl watching olbermann who now ranks behind nancy grace!!! lmao!!!!!
    oh, and for the progressives not paying attention, uncle ted’s seat is now being warmed by someone other than a democrat.
    alinsky may be a hero to many of the progressive useful idiots. one thing he didn’t account for, and no progressives have figured out since, that social media allows the people to bypass traditional media. and conservatives are dominating in social media. exactly why every liberal newspaper is dead or dying. people like the truth, and not the swill peddled by the likes of brian lowry.
    progressives can continue to bitch and moan, but until they realize that news is now democratized and that the people can’t be hoodwinked by the MSM over progressive agendas, and that it’s time to drop the ignorant progressive agenda, they’ll stay in the wilderness. and til then, good riddance.
    look, you were probably lied to by your gay progressive professor in college. it’s ok. you were a kid then. now that you’re an adult, it’s time to put on your big boy undies and wake up to the fact that americans don’t want progressivism. progressivism is anathema to liberty.
    the founding fathers would be ashamed of you, brian lowry.

  20. Matthew says:

    Filibuster and edited? Well you can go to FoxNews.com now and see the entire interview. Its a decent political discussion. In O’Reilly’s one hour each night, he gives more airtime to credible liberals than MSNBC gives to conservatives in an entire year. Why are you not critical of MSNBC’s bias?

  21. Eric says:

    Wow, dude, someone must have done something to you growing up! What a blindly visceral reaction to an OK interview. I would echo the sentiment of the comment above me which asks, Did you see the interview? I thought O’Reilly was more than fair and Stewart was given every opportunity to fully answer and expound upon his thoughts. And how come you don’t mention the admired socialist Columbia U. Professor who is a regular on O’Reilly’s show or Al Sharpton or Alan Combs? While O’Reilly is a conservative, his show is very good and always has disenting opinions. You should watch it for a stretch and then comment on it.

  22. Bertrand says:

    I agree with Parker. FoxNews is for the most part a fair channel. They aren’t perfect but they are far better than the competition. The talent at FNC is outstanding. Lowry obviously is very biased. Also, the interview is aired complete and unedited on their website. Not many news outlets offer that kind of transparency.

  23. Right and proud says:

    Agree with ML Parker. O’Reilly’s point was that America is so used to hearing liberal slant that they don’t even understand another point of view when they hear it. Stewart is a comic, nothing more. He doesn’t even understand politics. Same with you Lowry. Being a TV critic is not such a respectable career. Anyone can watch TV and give their opinion about it. It’s obvious you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You’re vile, just as o’reilly said.

  24. ML Parker says:

    Oops! Your bias is showing! Did you even SEE this interview? First off, Stewart called O’Reilly and REQUESTED to be on the Factor, not the other way around. Several of your points are off the mark and I think it’s because you’re now worried because Fox News is the most trusted news channel. Stewart is not only a lefty, which is fine, anyone can have their opionion… but he speaks complete untruths… he takes tape and edits it so it’s completely misleading… hopefully he will answer that with O’Reilly tonight. Stewart is a comedian, but you can’t put out falsehoods and claim it’s truth. There are only 2 people on Fox who are slanted, in a 24 hour news cycle, 2 people isn’t bad… where as places like MSNBC the people wouldn’t know how to be balanced if they saw it in front of them. Fox is the ONLT network that has equal time for guests on both sides of the aisle… that’s why everyone is tuning in, liberals, independents and conservatives.

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