A different debate

by Hemang Sharma

On October 6, 3 days after Governor Mitt Romney squares off against President Barack Obama in the first debate, two explosive personalities will duel out in a different type of debate.  Fox News anchor, and notorious TV personality, Bill O’ Reilly — the most watched cable news anchor in the world will go up against comedian Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. The event is already sold out, and is expected to bring in major revenue by PPV buys as well.

Stewart and O’Reilly have a bit of a history together. Both enjoy taking shots at each other on their respective shows. The Daily Show anchor often mocks O’Reilly on his show over silly things such as the “war on Christmas,” and the irrational fear of “the far left in America.” Stewart has made mocking Fox’s conservative bias his signature talking point, while crediting O’Reilly for still keeping some sanity. He compared O’Reilly to “the skinniest kid at fat camp.”

The event aims at donating half their proceeds to charity. It should be treated strictly as entertainment, and nothing more than that, even though it say a lot about the country’s political divide, the state of media and the actual dialogue that gets simmered by partisan bickering. Furthermore, it speaks volumes to the over-the-top criticism of the president, phony charges of socialism, wealth redistribution and allegations of fundamental change in America’s very fabric by the Right. If comedians like Stewart can be called upon to clean house with the likes of leading news anchors, the lines of entertainment and news are blurring in a major way, which we will be able to see at the debate this weekend.

Daily Show-alumni, now host of his own show, Stephen Colbert ran for President and got actual votes. He has a registered Super PAC with money raised by donors.  Colbert’s Comedy Central Show The Colbert Report is modeled closely on Bill O’Reilly’s show, The O’Reilly Factor. Colbert and Stewart mocked conservative Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor a couple of years back with their mock-revolutionary Rally to Restore Sanity and/ or Fear. There is a thin line between news and comedy in America, because people have started to take entertainers seriously in the realm of political media. O’Reilly is no different than Colbert or Stewart in the sense that they put their — often comedic — spin on the day’s news each night. When viewers turn on their televisions, they aren’t always going to be able to tell the difference between the blurred truths delivered by Fox News — or any news channel for that matter — or Comedy Central. Many would consider what Jon Stewart does as a service to the American public, because Stewart and his team present the news in a way that highlights real views and actual ridiculousness in politics, albeit in a non-Associated Press style.

This debate will help to question who holds media authority, as well as real political influence. Along with this debate, we should also focus on the debate between candidates Obama and Romney this week.


Hemang Sharma

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