(WASHINGTON) — It was billed as O’Reilly vs. Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium, a debate between powerhouse media personalities hosts Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart.
It was very much a rumble. There was some yelling, but mostly an honest exchange of ideas, and great laughter for the hosts, the packed crowd at the George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C., and the people who paid $4.95 to see it live streamed on the internet. A portion of the proceeds will go to charity.
O’Reilly and Stewart, at times mocking the presidential election and the presidential debate from this past week, seriously debated major issues that face the United States.
They took on issues like income redistribution, funding of public television, social security, who is to blame for our economy, security inside Libya, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But they provided themselves and the audience with zingers and a humor not normally seen on a debate stage.
Perhaps most humorous throughout the evening was Stewart’s poking fun at the height differential between himself and O’Reilly.
At 5’7″ tall, Stewart is nine inches shorter than the 6’4″ O’Reilly and to make up for the disparity in height Stewart was armed with a motorized lifting stage. The stage lift behind his podium allowed Stewart to be on eye level with O’Reilly and at times even taller than his sparring partner.
Stewart at one point remarked, “I can see why Obama did badly in the debate, the altitude is rough up here,” — reference to Al Gore’s reasoning behind President Obama performance in the presidential debate in Denver, where the altitude is 5,280 feet above sea level.
Both Stewart and O’Reilly expressed their views in a free flowing debate format with topical questions asked by moderator E.D. Hill, who struggled to control the two personalities. At one point O’Reilly quipped at Hill, “Are you still here?”
After one hour of debate at two podiums, Stewart and O’Reilly fielded pre-selected audience questions. Questions ranged from, “If the U.S., were burning, what famous person would you save?” to “Who is your political hero?”
Their answers: O’Reilly would save Oprah in a fire, because she is “worth about a billion dollars” and his political hero is Abraham Lincoln. For Stewart, he would save his “family” in a fire, and his political hero is Robert Kennedy because he had a “depth of belief and passion.”
For those paying $4.95 to see the debate live on a web stream, many were disappointed. On social media, people complained that the live stream was not working, making it impossible for some viewers to watch the debate.
In a press conference after the debate, O’Reilly apologized to those who could not watch the debate live but said that people could now get the debate on demand.
O’Reilly explained that “hundreds of thousands of people tried to get on, so the server crashed.” He also added, sarcastically, that if “anybody wants the $4.95 back, we’ll send it to you.”
Despite the live stream issues, the evening ended without one winner, but with two.
Each man holding up championship type belts to signify their victory in pulling off a night of fun, laughter, and substance.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio