A heated debate about the political leaning of Fox News happened Wednesday when "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart was invited on the "O'Reilly Factor."
"What you have been able to do, you and Dr. Ailes, have been able to mainstream conservative talk radio," said the Comedy Central star.
"Don't give me I'm a Republican shrill," countered host Bill O'Reilly. "That's bull."
The pair also battled over Fox host Glenn Beck with O'Reilly finishing the interview by saying, "If you think that Beck shills for the Republican Party, you're out of your mind."
After the discussion, Dennis Miller reviewed the segment saying, "I think he's one of the most compelling TV presences in the last 20 years," fascinatingly adding "the two state-of-the-art shows for information and entertainment in America right now are your show and Jon's show" (videos of both segments embedded below the fold with partial transcripts, h/t Hot Air):
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The other night on your program, you criticized FOX News for bailing out of the president's back-and-forth with the GOP. After we used an hour of it, an hour, all right, and bailed out for about 12 minutes because we had other stuff to do.
JON STEWART: Yeah.
O'REILLY: And you were offended, personally offended.
STEWART: I wasn't offended. I thought it was funny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president at times being a little bit combative.
STEWART: We're going to cut away because this is against the narrative that we present.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: But -- but, Stewart.
STEWART: Oh, my God.
O'REILLY: On election night.
STEWART: You have like Ali's reach. Do you see the arms on this guy?
O'REILLY: Oh, you have no idea.
STEWART: It's like dealing with Dikembe Mutombo, trying to argue. You're giving me one of these, no, no, no, no.
O'REILLY: On Massachusetts vote night, when we covered Coakley's speech in the entirety...
O'REILLY: ... when we covered the winner's speech in the entirety, Brown, OK, and the other CNN and MSNBC didn't cover Brown...
STEWART: I should have...
O'REILLY: ... you didn't say a word, did you?
STEWART: You're absolutely right.
O'REILLY: I rest my case.
STEWART: Your case is rested.
O'REILLY: Now, are you shocked? That a Democratic poll operation shows that FOX News is the most trusted news operation...
O'REILLY: In the country?
O'REILLY: Forty-nine percent of Americans trust us.
STEWART: No, I'm not shocked at that. Are you shocked that an Internet poll said I was the most trusted newscaster in America?
O'REILLY: Yes, but that was like Blinky did it. This was a big, big, big concern. And somebody told me off the record that you were one of the 49 percent. You believe FOX News is the most trusted news organization.
STEWART: I am. Here's what I believe. FOX News is the most passionate and sells the clearest narrative of any news organization, if that's how - are you still referring to it in that manner?
O'REILLY: Yes, it's a news organization. Right. That's how the poll referred to it.
STEWART: No, I'm sure it did.
O'REILLY: Nobody had any problem. Only you. Only you have a problem.
STEWART: I think FOX, in and of yourself, say you're not a news organization all day. Isn't it now your news -- what was it your news from 9 to 11, and then your opinion and then your news again from like 1 to 2:30?
O'REILLY: It's kind of like a newspaper. You've got news pages...
STEWART: Except on Jewish holidays and then you're not, and then on alternate parking days, you're news, but then Christmas you're not?
O'REILLY: OK. Think about the news pages, and then you open another page, and there is the opinion page. Clearly labeled, opinion page.
O'REILLY: You have no problem with that, right?
STEWART: First of all, newspapers are a passive piece of paper that you go to, and you know where the opinion thing is. Television doesn't function that way, and you know it.
O'REILLY: You don't think people know "The Factor" is an opinion show? You don't think they know that?
STEWART: It's not -- certainly not clearly labeled. I've looked at your promos. You're part of the fair and balanced part. You're part of the most trusted name in news.
O'REILLY: I am fair and balanced. But you don't think people know "The O'Reilly Factor" isn't an opinion show? That's like saying somebody watching your show, they don't know it's a comedy show. Come on, Stewart. Wise up, man. Everybody knows this. People watching in Pakistan, you know, they have little DirecTV. They say, O'Reilly is opinion show. They know. They know. They know you're a comic and they know I'm opinion guy.
STEWART: Why do they use this accent? Let me ask you a question. You truly believe that FOX News is just a nonpartisan, fair and balanced, trustworthy...
O'REILLY: Our hard news operation is, but of course, your -- OK, now you're casting aspersions.
STEWART: Yes, I am.
O'REILLY: Big word. Casting aspersions.
STEWART: I believe I am. That's right.
O'REILLY: People like Shepard Smith, people -- all of our White House people, (inaudible), they report fairly.
STEWART: Here's the brilliance -- here's the brilliance of FOX News. What you have been able to do, you and Dr. Ailes, have been able to mainstream conservative talk radio.
O'REILLY: Why wouldn't John McCain come on this program during the last campaign? Why did he dodge us and not come on if you - (inaudible), if we're in business to help the GOP, he wouldn't come in.
STEWART: But you're not in the business of John McCain. He is not GOP enough for you. You're in the business to help Sarah Palin.
O'REILLY: Dick Cheney -- Dick Cheney is to you Mr. Republican. Wouldn't come on the program, Stewart.
STEWART: Not Mr. Republican.
O'REILLY: Well, what?
STEWART: Well, because Dick Cheney, again, this atmosphere, there's a lot of light, which he's obviously allergic to.
O'REILLY: Stop. Come on.
STEWART: There's an opportunity to, like, brush past...
O'REILLY: I just gave you two examples that you can't refute with your propaganda outlook.
STEWART: But that doesn't mean anything.
O'REILLY: What do you mean?
STEWART: Let me explain what I mean.
O'REILLY: It's two concrete examples. John McCain running for president on the GOP side; Dick Cheney, Mr. GOP. Neither man would come in here because the questioning is too tough. So don't give me I'm a Republican shrill. That's bull.
STEWART: You -- like I say, you are the most reasonable -- have become the most reasonable voice on FOX, which quite frankly...
O'REILLY: Greta is the most reasonable, come on.
STEWART: But she's different. She's not as political. You are the most...
O'REILLY: She's on. She's not on the program, on the channel?
STEWART: Kind of.
O'REILLY: Yes. It's 10 p.m. to 11.
STEWART: Maybe she's kind of on it, but she's not really -- she's not the deal. No, let's go through this, because I think this is important.
O'REILLY: All right. Go ahead.
STEWART: You have become in some ways the voice of sanity here, which, as I said, is like being the thinnest kid...
O'REILLY: Cavuto sane?
STEWART: Being the thinnest kid at fat camp. So let's just get that straight. Here is what FOX has done through their cyclonic, perpetual...
O'REILLY: We're back to the cyclonic.
STEWART: Their cyclonic perpetual emotion machine that is a 24- hour a day, 7-day a week. They've taken reasonable concerns about this president and this economy and turned it into a full-fledged panic attack about the next coming of Chairman Mao. Explain to me why that is the narrative of your network?
O'REILLY: It's the narrative of a couple of guys, a Republican, Sean Hannity, and a guy, Glenn Beck, who's basically everyman. And he's basically...
STEWART: What do you mean he's everyman? What do you mean he's everyman?
O'REILLY: He's everyman. He sits on a bar stool.
STEWART: Every man has got a show? What are you talking about?
O'REILLY: He's talented.
STEWART: He's a very talented man. But where is everyman?
O'REILLY: It means that he doesn't shill for any party. He just spouts.
O'REILLY: He spouts what he believes. If you think that Beck shills for the Republican Party, you're out of your mind.
O'REILLY: In the "Miller Time" segment tonight, let's get to the sage of Southern California. He's been listening intently to my conversation with Jon Stewart. Miller, did you get anything out of that?
DENNIS MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, listen, I think, you know -- it's like "The Right Stuff." I'm in the brotherhood of comics. I think the guy is a great comic. And I admire Jon immensely. He's a nice man. And I find his TV skills to be Garroway-esque, which is the highest compliment I can pay somebody.
I think I agree with him about much in life and very little in politics. But what does that matter? You know, the overlap in politics never seems a given to me. I find a lot of people I love, like, have various degrees of relationships in life that my politics aren't akin to them at all. But I'm a big admirer. I think he's funny as hell. And I think he's one of the most compelling TV presences in the last 20 years.
O'REILLY: Can you tell, as a viewer and a professional, somebody who does a lot of satire, can you tell when somebody is performing to a crew, telling people what they want to hear rather than what they really believe and tailoring a program -- because, you know, a lot of people do this. You're in radio now. A lot of radio people do this.
Look, Air America, I mean, you know, they're not going to get out of the liberals are great, conservatives are idiot genre. They're just not going to do it. And on the right you have some people like that. Can you tell whether it's phony or not?
MILLER: Well, Bill, here's probably why I stand to straddle this cultural abyss in America. As ethical and as principled as I find you, and I don't agree with you on everything, but you know when I talk to you, sincerely believe you're one of the most principled men I've ever met. I feel the exact same thing about Jon.
I get both of you. There are parts of both of you I agree with. More with you than with Jon. But what am I to do? Start turning my back on people who don't sync up with me completely?
O'REILLY: Oh, no. I mean, that would be foolish.
MILLER: That's not being in (ph) the world.
O'REILLY: I don't do that either. So...
MILLER: I believe Jon believes it. I believe Jon believes every word he says to the extent that I believe you believe every word that you say.
O'REILLY: OK, and I agree. I think that -- I think, look, that those writers over there with Stewart are basically liberal guys, and they're coming at it from that sensibility. But when they see something absurd on the left, they'll go after it, and Obama is in trouble. And they have, as we pointed out...
MILLER: Bill, the two state-of-the-art shows on -- the two state-of-the-art shows for information and entertainment in America right now are your show and Jon's show. There's a reason. The guy helming it believes it.
O'REILLY: Right. There's no phoniness about it.
Exit question: Is Miller right?