In three short weeks, America's favorite frenemies Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart will trade insults and intellectual niceties once again in a 90-minute debate. O'Reilly announced the event Monday night on his show, explaining that it would be modeled after the presidential debates but "without all the phoniness and pomposity." It's all happening on October 6 at George Washington University, and they're calling it "The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium." And it's going to be tons of fun, and it will "illuminate the vital issues associated with upcoming presidential election." Oh, and it'll also cost you $4.95 if you want to watch it stream live.
It's actually sort of impressive that it took O'Reilly and Stewart this long to start charging for their annual face-off. The two TV hosts have been swapping licks during primetime since 2004 when Jon Stewart made his first appearance on The O'Reilly Factor to promote his book America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. It was an election year then, and O'Reilly jumped at the chance to lambast Stewart for all the "stoned slackers" who watched his show and might even influence the outcome of the election. The fun continued in 2008 when O'Reilly visited The Daily Show and shared a warm mug of hot chocolate with its host, and it sort of peaked with a 42 minute-long standoff that Fox News aired in two segments in 2010. It was during that segment that Stewart backhandedly complimented O'Reilly by calling him the "thinnest kid at fat camp."
This time around, it looks like Stewart and O'Reilly are recognizing their curiously affectionate relationship for the spectacle that it is. (You could almost bottle up the delicious tension in their most recent meeting last May when O'Reilly told Stewart, "The thing I like about you do take cheap shots all the time but you defend those cheap shots, and you do it very well.") So you'll have to fork over a fiver to see it happen in real life this time. No big deal, O'Reilly says. The money's going to charity -- or half of it is anyways. (It's unclear where the other half is going.)
In the end, everybody wins. "You win because we've kept the price very low, and it'll be a fun evening," said the Fox News host in his sales pitch. "The nation wins because it'll be plenty of no spin analysis about some serious issues. Stewart wins because he finally makes the big time. And I win because I can to make fun of Stewart."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.