"Daily Show" host Jon Stewart and Fox News's Bill O'Reilly clashed this week in a much-anticipated two-part debate on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor." (See video highlights below.) While many Stewart fans were hoping for a repeat of his 2004 destruction of Tucker Carlson — which preceded Carlson's CNN ousting — Stewart's "vigorous" yet "civil" face-off with O'Reilly seems unlikely to destroy anyone's career. Still, critics are debating: Who won?

O'Reilly wins by decision: "Even though Stewart landed some powerful punches," says Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times, "I'd have to give the edge to O'Reilly." You can't say "O'Reilly won on the intellectual force of his arguments," but he used his "home court advantage" to put Stewart on the defensive about Obama. "Stewart got in his swings, but he certainly wasn't hitting the ball out of the park like he does on 'The Daily Show.'"
"Jon Stewart vs. Bill O'Reilly: Did O'Reilly win the bout on points?"

Stewart, by K.O.: "Stewart offered a firm critique of Fox," while "O'Reilly defended his network at full shout" and took "a bunch of cheap shots," says Adrian Chen at Gawker. But the "Daily Show" host finally put O'Reilly away — a "knockout" — when he nailed Fox's M.O.: Take reasonable concerns about Obama and exaggerate them to create "full-fledged panic attack about the next coming of Chairman Mao."
"Jon Stewart vs. Bill O'Reilly"

This isn't a boxing match: Winning isn't the point here, says James Poniewozik in Time. The debate's "refreshing" civility is its takeaway. While remaining "spirited," the two hosts managed to respectfully "treat complex issues as, well, complex," discussing everything from Obama's job performance to Fox News' role in the media. If only O'Reilly could deliver more of the same.
"Stewart and O'Reilly: Taking on Fox News on Fox News


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