Saturday night, Daily Show frontman Jon Stewart and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly took the stage before an audience of 1,500 at George Washington University and went toe-to-toe on domestic and foreign policy. The two celebs traded barbs and jokes but they also delved into serious political issues, from budgets and deficits to health care and social security.

The response to #Rumble2012 on Twitter was overwhelmingly positive. The passion and depth of discussion put the “real” debates to shame, according to many who watched the show.

Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart

Stewart and O’Reilly #Rumble2012

Saturday night, Daily Show frontman Jon Stewart and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly took the stage before an audience of 1,500 at George Washington University and went toe-to-toe on domestic and foreign policy.

Storified by Kathy E Gill · Sun, Oct 07 2012 02:33:49

The event had its comic moments but the two also tackled serious issues, from social security and entitlements to spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. 
This explains everything #rumble2012Alikat1323
The event was not televised but was live-streamed and available to view or download for $4.95, with half of that going to charity. Unfortunately, demand exceeded supply.
The #rumble2012 isn’t between Stewart and O’Reilly. It’s between potential viewers and the official website. #losingbattleRobert Workman
I watched the most excellent #Rumble2012 on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P5tIxg4VDg – my download has stopped :-/ #fail http://pic.twitter.com/WOPugPx8Kathy E Gill
#rumble2012 I guess I go to bed without watching my purchase. NOX YOU ARE FIRED!!! I have to get up to watch @upwithchris in the morningTanya Wells
The debate was a feast for political junkies. For example, in the spirited give-and-take on the federal budget and deficits, Stewart lamented that the U.S. is “weeks from becoming a failed state or worse Greece.” The solution? “Kill Big Bird,” a reference to Mitt Romney’s remarks at the first presidential debate earlier this week. 
Jon Stewart: "Give me my money back– the $800 billion for the Iraq war– and children’s television is on the house.” #Rumble2012Eaglewoman?
"You can’t privatize your profits and socialize your losses." – Jon Stewart on corporate welfare #Rumble2012Jordan Wilhelmi
Stewart: Corporations who take advantage of tax breaks are smart businessmen, but hungry people taking foodstamps are moochers. #rumble2012Zack Ford
Although the two disagreed about the nature and cause of the deficits — and there was with a bit of confusion or slip of the tongue about deficits and debt on Stewart’s part — O’Reilly and Stewart agreed on support for military servicemen. O’Reilly also asserted that the U.S. should not have invaded Iraq, putting him on the fringes of the Republican party.
Bill O’Reilly: ‘we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq.’ Stewart" ‘somebody live-tweet that!!!’ Done! #rumble2012 http://huff.to/RIO55NHuffPost Media
#Rumble2012 O’Reilly, Stewart agree on meeting #health-care needs of returning #vets. O’Reilly can’t explain #GOP block of vets #jobs bill.Diana B. Henriques
#rumble2012 O’Reilly tears up noting Jon Stewart is visiting wounded troops tomorrowNeil Schwartzman
On health care, O’Reilly argued that the government role should be reorganized and “run by insurance companies not the government.” Stewart thinks we should decouple health care insurance from employers, and “the only way we can do this is through a single-payer system.”
On #rumble2012 @billloreilly basically just described the swiss health care system as his model for the us.Mathieu von Rohr
Insurances companies are motivated by profit, Oreilly, not health care outcomes. #rumble2012People Skills
I lived in Britain for 12 years. People weren’t toothless, Bill. Nor did they live in fear of losing homes over health care #rumble2012Danny Sullivan
Watching @oreillyfactor talk crap about the NHS. As an American living in the UK, you have no idea what you are talking about #rumble2012Christina Eakins
#Rumble2012 I have a Canadian friend that loves their HEALTHCARE… Not true what O’Reilly said …..BettyB
I live in Australia. I’ve hade public health care since 1973. I love it. We all love it. #rumble2012Bill
And although he objected to what he sees as an entitlement society, O’Reilly supports Social Security.
"If you’re for social security, we’re all socialists. We’re just arguing about what shade of red we are." —Stewart #rumble2012The Prospect

The passion and depth of discussion put the “real” debates to shame, according to many who watched the show.

Sadly, the Stewart/O’Reilly debate was more interesting and substantive than the presidential debates in general. #rumble2012Emily Mills
Interesting that 2 celebrity news men can have a more engaging & thought provoking debate than the 2 men running for office #rumble2012Ambilance
Tech issues aside, #rumble2012 was great. Substantive conversation, respectful disagreement and the best debate we’ll see in this campaign.Scott Smith
I know this was meant to be entertaining but #rumble2012 is far more intellectually pleasing. Ob and Mitt take notesMargaret
Difference between #Rumble2012 and the prez debate: rational arguments from both sides, and I didn’t want to throw things at the screen.C. A. Bridges
Learned at #rumble2012: O’Reilly/Stewart proved that we can have a stimulating debate that makes us think. Was a refreshing No Hate Zone.Jim Gilchriest
It’s a bit sad that the most substantial debate should be between a pundit and a comedian. There’s a lesson there somewhere #Rumble2012Evelyn
If actual American politicians could hold a civilized discussion like that, we’d be heading in a good direction. #rumble2012Kevin Mastman
Well that’s about the best political debate anyone is going to see this year. #Rumble2012Erik Childress
@sjdorst I was impressed. Under the humor was a ton of substance. #rumble2012Excuse Me
A question from the audience about foreign aid demonstrated a common misunderstanding of its place in the budget. Neither O’Reilly nor Stewart trotted out the numbers. O’Reilly said it had doubled under Obama but noted that it’s a small part of the budget. 
In fact, it’s a very small part of the budget. Like PBS funding
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In response to the question, “what advice would you give Congress?”, Stewart sat in O’Reilly’s lap. The audience cheered.
yfrog Photo : http://twitter.yfrog.com/kf3w5yp Shared by HuffPostMediayfrog free image and video hosting on your social networks
Both Stewart and O’Reilly addressed the problem of political discourse. O’Reilly said the problem is “capitalism” because “you can make a lot of money by being an assassin…. you’re a hater, you get paid. They don’t even believe half the stuff they say. And they get paid a lot of money.”
"What is biggest problem w/ public discourse today?" J Stewart, "we’ve forgotten how to solve problems." B O’Reilly "capitalism" #Rumble2012Lars Leafblad
"We’ve lost our ability to problem solve. We’re having the wrong conversation."–Jon Stewart @NoLabelsatAU #rumble2012Patrick Burnett
Amazing that #BillOreilly acknowledges that capitalism corrupts media, & he milks hate for what it’s worth. #Rumble2012Dahlia Eissa
O’Reilly: "The problem with the media is CAPITALISM." Say what? What world am I living in? #HeadExplodes #rumble2012Erica Payne
In the Q&A, Stewart agreed with Jeffery from Utah that the president should be elected by popular vote.  “I could agree with that,” he said. “The Electoral College makes absolutely no sense to me.” O’Reilly disagreed “entirely” because major cities would be the trigger points. He also predicted the emergence of a viable third party.
Stewart calls electoral vote system "frustrating;" O’Reilly says it’s good places like LA don’t have all the control. #rumble2012The Prospect
And the Q&A was also punctuated with jokes. After O’Reilly said his pick for president would be Clint Eastwood, Stewart addressed his chair. He also thinks either Clinton could win.
Bill Clinton and Hilary could run right now with a 70% vote #stewart #rumble2012Erika
What celeb 4 prez? O’Reilly: "Clint Eastwood." Stewart, getting up and looking at his now-empty chair: "Why don’t we ask him?" #Rumble2012Dan Zak
jon stewart asking invisible clint eastwood a question. #rumble2012 http://pic.twitter.com/pq6n6J4Jnoodle

More gems from Stewart:

Stewart: "Bill O’Reilly’s audience is calling my audience on the phone to try to figure out how to download this thing." #Rumble2012Dan Zak
"The first sentence of the constitution mentions unions and welfare. Not corporations." — Stewart #rumble2012The Prospect
"Some people say the gov’t that governs least governs best. I say gov’t that governs best governs best." -Jon Stewart #Rumble2012Jason
"Government: I don’t want it gone, I want it better." – Jon Stewart #rumble2012Jessica Eve Kennedy
BS Mountain #rumble2012Political Panda
Stewart: "This idea that disagreeing with somebody means you should not engage them is ridiculous." #Rumble2012Fiona
"Let me handle this! I think people have confused not being forced to pray everywhere with not being able to pray anywhere."#jon #rumble2012Allison Zapata
Stewart: "If you think Christmas in this country isn’t celebrated a Christmas, walk a mile in Hanukkah shoes." #Rumble2012Benjamin R. Freed

Missed the show?

Learn more about the event or sign up to (legally) download the show at TheRumble2012
A pirated version is on YouTube as of this writing. Hopefully Stewart and O’Reilly will let it stand, given that their contractor failed to anticipate demand or arrange for cloud backup (Amazon Services, anyone?).
I suggest that #Rumble2012 be available free to all one week from now. I think that Stewart and O’Reilly would agree.Linda Sherman Gordon
People: if you didn’t watch Stewart and O’Reilly’s #rumble2012, get the video. This is smart, honest debate re what theissues really are.Ania Wieckowski
Can’t wait for the On Demand feed to be posted so I can watch the entire debate again. When was the last time you heard that? #Rumble2012Michelle Buckowski
That was the best $4.95 I’ve ever spent #rumble2012Trisha Lynn
Bill O’Reilly & Jon Stewart. Brilliant entertainment. Making political discussion relevant thru comedy. Best $5 spent in years. #rumble2012Chris LaBossiere
Incredibly inspired by BOTH O’Reily and Stewart tonight. Wish we could see such honesty and acceptance everywhere. #Rumble2012Jessie Hansell
Really appreciate @oreillyfactor & @thedailyshow staging #rumble2012 & proving political disagreement doesn’t have to = hate. Well done.Katrina Cabrera
The Rumble 2012 – Promobilloreilly

And the initial stats:

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KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst
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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • Roku screwed up big time. Its subscribers who bought & paid for the show (like myself) could not log on & view. Gave up about 20 mins. in. Pirated for me!

  • dduck

    The spoof is the proof that pure entertainment and the quest to please the audience (and raise money) trumps trying to show your best face and get elected or reelected.

  • cjjack

    I didn’t realize there was any problem with the feed until after the debate,since I was able to stream the whole thing in high quality with nary a glitch.

    One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that Stewart had no notes, and Bill-O (apart from his stunt cards) didn’t appear to, either. Contrast this with the “real” debates, where both sides spend more time reading off of and taking notes than actually communicating with each other.

    That’s the other thing…these two weren’t talking past each other in carefully crafted talking points. They were actually taking TO each other! Sure, there were laugh lines and zingers delivered by both for the benefit of the audience, but most of the time they were focused on each other…listening, even.

    I’d pay at least $4.95 to see Obama and Romney speak extemporaneously for a change.

  • My dream dduck is to become a Presidential Campaign Manager. You haven’t seen nothing yet. I fully realize it’s all about entertainment. So I’m bringing in:

    1. CGI
    2. Robots
    3. Soundtracks to stump speeches with live bands (perhaps an orchestra for effect)
    4. Bigger pyrotechnics
    5. Cool dances/steps/leans/etc
    6. Big set pieces

    Wanna help dduck? We can do this. Let’s show ’em a show. To heck with elected/re-elected jazz. Presidential Campaign meets The Avengers.

    I’d pay at least $4.95 to see Obama and Romney speak extemporaneously for a change.

    Oh I would as well cjjack! 🙂

  • HI, Barky – I don’t think it was Roku’s fault. I think it was NOX SOLUTIONS (NOT): http://www.noxsolutions.com/

    dduck – I would not call this event pure entertainment. In fact I noted that it was more than that in the headline.

    cjjack – you were lucky – but you weren’t alone. lots of people were able to watch it in real time – but a lot weren’t. no one is taking numbers, at least not that I’ve seen. I can tell you that my two downloads – medium quality and very high quality – are both pixelated. The VHQ is **1.6GB** and it’s pixelated. :-/

    tyrone – you know election events (debates) used to be all about entertainment. and booze. 😉
    http://history1800s.about.com/od/timelines/tp/electionhub.htm

  • dduck

    T, I guess I’m old fashioned (and a male chauvinist pig), but I would include cheerleaders like Dallas has.

  • dduck

    I watched the Rumble, and also thought it was very good and substantive and more of a debate than the other one. I wonder what our TMV pundits thought of it.

  • Hi, dduck — thanks for that update!

    I watched it again last night with Mike — on our HD TV. I was *most* disappointed with the quality. Audio out of sync in large part due to the horrible frame rate. Something that was passable on the iPad was a travesty on a bigger screen.