The video: The Obama administration's decision to welcome the rapper Common to a White House poetry slam last week sparked heated, hyperventilating debate that largely centered on some Common lyrics defending cop killers. After Jon Stewart called out Fox News for inflaming the issue, Bill O'Reilly, who had repeatedly hammered the Obama administration's decision, invited his old sparring pal over to The O'Reilly Factor for a little debate. So on Monday night, the comedian sat with the Fox News host and argued that O'Reilly's standard of barring musical defenders of convicted cop killers from the White House would outlaw musical legends like Bono, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, too. (See the video below.) O'Reilly stuck to his guns, insisting that Common is different, and that the president should never have invited him.
The reaction: When this odd couple gets together, it's like watching "a dictionary argue with a chainsaw," says Dave Itzkoff at The New York Times. Yeah, "O'Reilly blustered while Stewart smiled and joked and quipped his way to victory," says Mike Sragow in The Baltimore Sun. Oh, please, says The Right Scoop. "Stewart was being intellectually dishonest" about Common's real musical message. Regardless, the real question is why the media hyped this at all, says Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly. "The spectacle of two white guys explaining to each other, and their audiences, the artistic or political significance of a black artist would be fine if there was also any equally prominent place on cable where actual black people also debated these questions. Wouldn't that add something to the discussion?" Watch Stewart vs. O'Reilly: