09/28/2004 at 04:25 PM EDT
Demographics have entered the fray after FOX News Channel's Bill O'Reilly threw some on-air punches at Jon Stewart, whose audience on Comedy Central, O'Reilly insisted, consists of "stoned slackers."
Not true, reports Nielsen Media Research. In fact, Stewart's The Daily Show viewers are better educated than O'Reilly watchers and Stewart's fan base is likelier than O'Reilly's to have completed four years of college.
Earlier this month, the conservative O'Reilly, in a face-to-face interview on The O'Reilly Factor said to the satirical Stewart: "You know what's really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it's true. You've got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote."
When confronted with O'Reilly's "stoned slackers" remark, Stewart, appearing startled at first, responded: "This election is going to rely on the undecided. And who is more undecided than stoned slackers? Ice cream or pretzels? Ice cream or pretzels? What's it going to be?"
Though O'Reilly subsequently admitted he was only kidding, reports the Associated Press, Comedy Central executives didn't wish to leave the wrong impression with advertisers. Said network president Doug Herzog: "If the head of General Motors was watching O'Reilly's show, that could be very important to us."
Countered FOX News Channel spokesman Rob Zimmerman, obviously with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek: "Comedy Central must have lost their sense of humor. Without Jon Stewart, Comedy Central would turn into the Great American Country Channel."
Just to be fair and balanced, O'Reilly is now scheduled to appear on The Daily Show Oct. 7.