Last night's sparring match between Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart focused sharply on Fox News's credibility. The O'Reilly Factor host broached the topic noting that Fox is the most trusted television news network in the country, according to a recent poll. Stewart gave O'Reilly a backhanded compliment calling him the "voice of sanity" at Fox--kind of like being the "thinnest kid at fat camp."
On Blurring the Line Between News and Opinion
O'REILLY: Are you shocked? That a Democratic poll operation shows that FOX News is the most trusted news operation [...]
STEWART: I am. Here's what I believe. FOX News is the most passionate and sells the clearest narrative of any news organization...I think FOX, in and of yourself, say you're not a news organization all day. Isn't it now your news...from 9 to 11, and then your opinion...?
O'REILLY: It's kind of like a newspaper. You've got news pages... and then you open another page, and there is the opinion page. Clearly labeled, opinion page.
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.
On O'Reilly as Fox's Voice of Reason
STEWART: 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?
On Glenn Beck
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.