After a week of vacation from serving as host of Comedy Central's Daily Show, Jon Stewart leaped into the fray on Tuesday about whether Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly was accurate about what happened while he was covering conflicts in a number of foreign nations.
“First,” the comedian began, “let's be frank about television journalists' self-aggrandizement. … It's nothing new. The most recent allegations -- well, they hurt me, they disappointed me because they concern someone” he considers a friend.
At that point, a female Cable News Network reporter was shown stating: “Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly is on the defensive over his reporting career. A Mother Jones article accuses the conservative host of exaggerating his heroics during his coverage of the Falkland Islands conflict in 1982.”
“Really? We’re going after O’Reilly for exaggerating being in a war zone?” Stewart asked incredulously. “I don't know if you watch his program,” but it begins with him saying: “Caution! You are about to enter the No-Spin Zone.”
“Misrepresenting the zone he's in is kind of his hook,” the liberal host asserted. Those are “the words he utters right before throwing some jackass who disproves global warming by wandering around Boston pointing at snow on a network whose slogan is a textbook case of trolling: 'Fair and Balanced.'”
Actually, he was referring to Jesse Watters, a member of O'Reilly's staff who travels around the country asking people simple questions to find out how many individuals are aware of the news or interesting trivia.
The segment of Watters' World Stewart showed was when the young reporter traveled to Boston, which is under more than eight feet of snow, to determine if the people there still believe in global warming.
Stewart continued discussing the Fox News Channel by asserting: “No one’s watching them for the actual truth. You're basically putting in a tremendous amount of work to say: 'The emperor has no clothes' when the emperor has spent like 20 years going: 'Look at me. ... I'm naked.'”
“But even worse,” he stated, “Mother Jones, you brought a magazine article to a TV fight.”
Next came a montage of O'Reilly stating: “More proof the American media is corrupt.” “Mother Jones, which has a low circulation,” is “the bottom rung of journalism in America.”
The Factor host then accused the publication of being a “dishonest smear merchant,” “a liar,” “an irresponsible guttersnipe” and a “far-left zealot” producing “defamation," “garbage” and a “political hit job.”
When Stewart returned to the TV screen, a picture of O'Reilly was beside him with the caption “Raging Bill.”
“But you know what?” he asked. “Maybe the media feels this type of indictment is necessary to preserve its credibility. Let's see how the fourth estate regains its dignity through investigation and socratic debate.”
The subject changed to former CBS correspondent Eric Engberg, who said he was there and slammed O'Reilly since he believed their location “was not a war zone.”
In an audio clip, O'Reilly responded: “I don't think he was there. I don't think he knows what happened. He never left the hotel.”
Engberg fired back: “He's the one that started the personal dispute by saying that we were all hiding in our hotel rooms.”
The Fox News host stated that Engberg's nickname was “Room Service Eric” while the former CBS reporter claimed: “I never ordered room service during a riot in my life!”
When the audience's laughter died down, Stewart proposed: “Look, why don't we just agree that a good amount of the personal anecdotes from our media figures are seasoned with “bulls**t, and let's just move on?”
To support his assertion, the liberal host ran a clip of another female anchor reporting: “Secret, newly leaked cables reveal Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have misled the U.N. in 2012 about Iran's ability to build a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu told the General Assembly Iran was one year away from producing a nuclear weapon.”
“First of all, Iran has been one year away from building a nuclear weapon for, like, 20 years now,” Stewart joked. “At a certain point, I think we should think about getting them a tutor. They've been in nuclear fourth grade for a decade.”
Another video showed a secret Israeli analysis that stated: “Iran at this stage is not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”
“This is the kind of s**t we should be looking into,” Stewart charged. “It seems to me, you know, we might all be just a little better off if the exaggerations about covering a war get less attention than the exaggerations that got us into so many of them!”
Could this assault on the most popular person in cable news for 15 years be an attempt to balance the scales after the liberals recently lost former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams? Only time -- and ratings -- will tell.