FoxNews.com has posted the entire unedited interview of Jon Stewart by Bill O’Reilly on its website, and if you’re the least bit interested in media criticism, or Fox News criticism in particular, or discussions of politics and febrile American culture, or just tough but respectful debate, you really need to watch it. (By the way, if you have trouble getting the video to play all the way through at Fox News, which I did in my browser, you can also find it on YouTube starting here.)
Among other things, you’ll see Stewart give a much longer, detailed, and damning walkthrough of how Fox’s news and opinion programming work together to form one conservative “narrative,” exceptions like Shepard Smith notwithstanding:
STEWART: The way that you did it: you can’t shoot conservative talk radio directly into the veins of the American people. Their heads would blow up. You can only have that in taxis and various places in people’s homes. So what you’ve done is, you’ve taken a cyclonic, narrative-driven, news organ, you know, media arm of a political party, of a political wing, and you’ve sprinkled it. You’ve cut it with a little bit of objectiv–a little bit of Chris Wallace asking a tough question–a little bit.
O’REILLY: From 9 to 4, when Cavuto comes on, that’s seven hours.
STEWART: Not even close. Not even close. Because they’re also part of the journey.
O’REILLY: Who’s part of the journey?
STEWART: The journey begins in the morning. It begins with the wide-eyed innocents of Fox and Friends. “Obama has czars. You know, I googled ‘czars.’ Did you know that’s a Russian word? For a Russian leader?” Or they’ll go through, “These children in second grade are singing the praises of Obama. Did you know they sing the praises of their leader… in North Korea?” And then when the hard news comes on, they’ll go: “Some people are concerned that they’re indoctrinating children!”
There’s more: much, much more, and it’s only too bad that Fox didn’t air the whole thing. Not surprising, though, considering how directly Stewart takes apart specific Fox personalities. He even, good-naturedly, jabs O’Reilly for griping with Bernard Goldberg about “Harvard-educated media elites”: “You’re a Harvard-educated media elite, O’Reilly!” (“And proud of it,” O’Reilly comes back.)
If journalists want to push to have President Obama take questions from Republicans on a regular basis, I say we go them one better: have these two go at it once a month, unedited.