Whenever Bill O'Reilly appears on The Daily Show or Jon Stewart stops by The O'Reilly Factor (which he'll do tonight to plug his new film Rosewater), it makes news. Predictably, O'Reilly and Stewart's most recent meeting generated the kind of sensational headlines that keep bloggers fed. Mediate went with, "Stewart vs. O'Reilly Showdown: Intense Battle Over White Privilege." The Blaze headline read, "Debate Over 'White Privilege' Between Jon Stewart and Billy O'Reilly Descends Into Shouting Match." Headlines like these drive pageviews, training viewers to expect a fierce battle between two partisans. Headlines like these are also deeply misleading.
The relationship between Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart is far more nuanced than these headlines would have you believe. Sure, the two men are on opposite poles when it comes to the issues, and they do raise their voices at each other from time to time. If you watch the exchanges that the two men have had over the past decade, however, there is far less hostility than you would think. Though both men are always game for a debate, their conversations are filled with more jokes, friendly jabs, and signs of mutual respect than anger. They joke about exchanging emails and gifts; they promote each other's projects; they come together on some fundamental issues.
A look at the history of O'Reilly and Stewart's relationship reveals men who put their admiration for each other above their partisan differences. Though these two are sometimes so far apart that one man's views can utterly confound the other, they respect each other as men unafraid to speak truth to power. Here is a history of Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart’s frenemy relationship.
Brenden Gallagher is a contributing writer. He tweets here.