Jon Stewart-Bill O'Reilly show: Who won the Great Poetry Debate?

The Jon Stewart–Bill O'Reilly faceoff on 'The O'Reilly Factor' Monday touched on the White House guest list at a poetry event. Tuesday is Round 2: presidential candidates. Prepare yourself, Newt.

Peter Kramer/AP
The Jon Stewart-Bill O' Reilly debates have been going on for some time now. Here, they appear on 'The O' Reilly Factor' in September 2010.

Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly debated poetry last night on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Specifically, they argued over whether it was wrong for the Obama administration to invite the rapper Common to the White House for a poetry event last week.

Who won? Advertisers, most likely. Ratings go up whenever this pair is on screen together. They’re like Starsky and Hutch, Felix and Oscar, or Seals and Crofts – an odd-couple duo that somehow works. They actually address each other’s points and don’t shout or throw chairs. Maybe they should hold a big event on the Mall in D.C. in the name of civil discourse and ... oh, right.

Anyway, Mr. O’Reilly pointed out that, 11 years ago, Common wrote a song that defended convicted cop killer Assata Shakur, and that the rapper has traveled abroad to meet with Ms. Shakur, who escaped from prison in 1979.

“Common traveled to Cuba to meet with someone who was convicted of killing a New Jersey trooper,” said O’Reilly, referring to Shakur. “A member of the Black Liberation Army. They found 16 live rounds in her purse.”

Given that President Obama has already faced criticism for some past associations, such as his relationship with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, he should have known enough to keep Common at arm's length, said O’Reilly.

White House guests need to be “almost unimpeachable,” according to the conservative Fox News host.

Mr. Stewart responded by saying that Common was not celebrating Shakur, so much as honoring someone he believes or believed was wrongly convicted. And if you start excluding from the White House artists who have written songs defending convicted cop killers, then Bono, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan need to be kept outside the fence as well.

“Why are you drawing the line at Common? There is a selective outrage machine here at Fox that pettifogs only when it suits the narrative that suits them. This guy is in the cross hairs when he shouldn’t be,” said Stewart.

Round 2 of the Stewart-O’Reilly pillow fight is on tonight. They’re going to discuss Republican presidential candidates. Fun! We can’t wait to see their take on Newt Gingrich’s huge Tiffany jewelry bill. For now, we’ll close with a poem – with apologies to Carl Sanburg. Or at least Carl Sanburg’s heirs and/or copyright inheritors. (Editor's note: Carl Sanburg's name was misspelled in the original.)

The pettifog comes/on little cat feet/It sits looking/over camera and show set/on scratching haunches/and then moves on/to The Colbert Report.

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