It all started last week with a simple invitation. First Lady Michelle Obama set off a firestorm of controversy when she invited rapper Common to attend the White House for a night of poetry. The invite angered critics, mostly Republicans who lashed out at the Obama's for inviting an artist who "glorified" police killing in a previous poem. Another familiar critic of Hip-Hop music and it's message included none other than talk show host Bill O' Reilly.
Calling Common a defender of a cop killer – a direct nod towards exiled former Black Panther Assata Shakur and the rapper’s "A Song For Assata" track recounting her tale – O’Reilly has challenged the popular Jon Stewart to a debate over the issue. Stewart, using his satirical and comedic wit, discounted the fervor and criticism of the White House poetry event and Common’s inclusion in the affairs – which some have considered a dismantling of Fox News and conservative pundits aims in making the beloved rapper a political target.
Tonight the debate begins. The two talk show hosts make their case. What are your thoughts?
8:23 - Bill O'Reilly recaps his beef with Common, says the rapper praises cop killers and had no business at the White House.
8:23 - The debate begins. O'Reilly says Common supports cops killers, millions of Americans are upset.
8:24 - O'Reilly says Common thinks, Assata Shakur is "great." Says Common visited Shakur in Cuba.
8:25 - Stewart says Common is not celebrating but honoring someone who he felt was wrongly accused. Says Common thinks Shakur was convicted unjustly.
8:26 - O'Reilly says the White House made a poor decision inviting Common. "You know how many poets would have loved to be there?"
8:27 - Before making his point Stewart tells O'Reilly that he has "mad love for" him. HA! Says Common has done lot's of great work and shouldn't be determined by this incident.
8:27 - O'Reilly cites a second incident where Common praised a cop killer in Philadelphia (Muma Abu-Jamal).
8:28 - Stewart makes a point that singers, Bono and Bob Dylan made songs about killers Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of slaying two FBI agents and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and still went to the White House unscrutinized. Says folks who made song's expressing their thoughts on murder cases should be allowed in the White House. "Why are you drawing a line at the Common," Stewart asks.
8:30 - commercial break
8:32 - O'Reilly questions why he should be fair to Common alongside Bono and others. Reiterates that Common visited Shakur in Cuba.
8:33 - O'Reilly puts Common in the same category as Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers, all examples of what he considers Obama's bad decisions.
8:35 - Stewart says if he was President he'd have better things to do other than booking guests for "Poetry Slam."
8:36 - Stewart says it's sad to see O'Reilly wasting his time on this topic. Says "songs are not literal."
8:36 - O' Reilly says that what he likes about Stewart is he takes "cheap shots but defends those cheap shots."
8:36 - The debate is over. Who came out victorious, O'Reilly asks.