posted 2012-10-24 12:32:52

Stewart and O’Reilly for President?

TV personalities outshine the presidential candidates during mock debate 

Precious Piovanetti

Contributing Writer

This month the presidential candidates engaged in their first debate. However, that wasn’t the only debate that got attention from both the American viewers and the media. Almost a week after the first presidential debate aired, a mock debate between two of the strongest political personalities in the media today streamed live over the Internet.

Americans were genuinely excited and eagerly anticipated the mock debate between man-you-love-to-hate Bill O’ Reilly and master of political satire Jon Stewart. Both debates had a large amount of viewers and, of course, created buzz on every social network the night they aired. Americans were actually more excited for the mock debate than the real debate.

The first presidential debate had about 6.7 million viewers, a good turnout and an increase from last year’s numbers. However, the turnout for the mock debate was so large that it crashed the servers, shutting out a large number of viewers who paid to watch it online that night. Social network feeds were filled with more posts for the mock debate than they were for the presidential debate, both leading up to it and the day of. With both debates said and done a common question, has been asked amongst the media outlets: Which one was the better debate? The answer should be the real presidential debate, because for one it’s actually real and supposed to be an important aspect of the election process. Unfortunately, that’s not the answer. In addition to that, not only was the mock debate better than the first presidential debate, but after watching it O’ Reilly and Stewart looked more like potential presidential candidates than Obama and Romney.
The mock debate isn’t the winner because it was more “fun,” since they had the opportunity to say whatever they wanted. It was the superior debate because they actually answered the questions. I, along with most of the 6.7 million viewers who watched the presidential debate, was left confused by what I had just watched. It was supposed to be a chance for the candidates to clarify where they stand on certain issues. Instead we got endless screen shots of Obama looking down at the podium, while Romney barked the same unsubstantial jargon we’ve heard from him throughout the campaign.
At the mock debate we saw two individuals who were both passionate and clear about their arguments. O’ Reilly didn’t go up there and dance around the questions without fully explaining what his plan would be, like a certain other Republican. Jon Stewart matched O’Reilly’s energy and then some. He didn’t constantly look down to gather his thoughts, but came in prepared and ready to debate (unlike a certain someone).

Aside from the delivery and content of the speeches, the mock debate actually looked more professional. “The Rumble in The Air-Conditioned Auditorium” was monitored by former Fox news and current CNN anchor Ed Hill. As a monitor, E. D. Hill received a lot more respect from her debaters than poor PBS veteran Jim Lehrer. While watching the presidential debate, you often forgot Jim Lehrer was even there, except for the sporadic moments where he raised his voice out of frustration and was practically scolding the candidates. This isn’t all his fault, of course. The two candidates didn’t show him any respect, barely adhering to their time limits and hardly keeping on the topic of the questions being asked.
In the mock debate you did have campy attempts at laughs such as Jon Stewart’s rising podium platform, but the debaters for the most part acknowledged E. D. Hill as a moderator. Of course there were times they didn’t listen to her (which isn’t surprising considering the strong personalities they have), but she was able to ask the prepared questions and managed to get Stewart and O’ Reilly to stay on topic better than Lehrer could with the men who were actually running for president.

Although the mock debate was fun to watch, it represents a major problem in politics today, which is the fact that media figures have become too directly involved with politics. Americans are more excited to see TV personalities duke it out more than they are the candidates who are competing to potentially run our country for the next four years. What makes it even worse is that the television personalities took the debate more seriously than the candidates did, and their stance on issues came across crystal clear. The mock debate greatly outshone the presidential debate, and frankly that’s embarrassing.