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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Spin This: Jon Stewart on "The O'Reilly Factor"

Somewhere between our love of "Lost" (ahem Roz and Adam ahem) and our laziness, the news that Jon Stewart was set to appear on Papa Bear Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News sort of fell off our radar.

In fact, I didn't know it happened until I saw it online today.

In the first part of the interview, which aired last night on "The O'Reilly Factor" and can be found in the clip below, Stewart is on his best behavior. This is not quite as potent as the infamous "Crossfire" interview on CNN where he ripped Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala proverbial new ones when they badgered him to be "funny" and criticized his objectivity. Instead, Stewart smartly uses a few well-timed self-deprecating blocks to O'Reilly's slightly nastier jabs to avoid sounding holier-than-thou or overly critical.

When O'Reilly -- mockingly or not -- suggests he's surprised "The Daily Show" host is actually smart, Stewart does that wry, "aw, shucks" thing that works well for him, fending off the underhanded compliment (dig?) by saying he's got his writers in his pocket.

Stewart's criticism of Fox News -- of which he has many as expressed almost nightly on his Comedy Central show -- was more nuanced as were his answers about what he believes are President Obama's strengths and weaknesses. Said Stewart about Obama: "I can't tell if he's a Jedi Master... or if this is kicking his ass."

Although he's not as ridiculous as he is often is on his own show (understandably), Stewart does what he does best in this interview: a combination of smarts and sarcasm with a hint of populist outrage without taking it out directly on his host. O'Reilly is, well, mostly his usual blustering self with an obvious chip on his shoulder when it comes to Stewart's popularity and intelligence, but his efforts to goad Stewart fall flat. Watch the clip and see for yourself:

The second part of the interview airs tonight on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News at 7 p.m.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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