Tavis Smiley and Cornel West appeared on The O’Reilly Factor last night and engaged in a spirited debate with host Bill O’Reilly over poverty, corruption in the financial sector and a jobless rate that is growing to nearly 20% in African-American demographic. The two sides of the debate represented distinct ideological points-of-view, which made for a remarkably compelling discussion of various of hot topics in the news, namely Occupy Wall Street and a struggling economy.
Smiley and West seemed to have been joined at the hip of late, having appeared on numerous television programs to promote their eponymous radio program, as well as bring awareness to the plight of joblessness in the African-American community. They make a formidable and entertaining team, as the each present a similar perspective on what ails the country but with a different skill set.
To help celebrate the 15th anniversary of Fox News, O’Reilly took his show on the road last night, delivering his show live and with a studio audience in Boston. This created quite a different setting for Factor viewers accustomed to the typically controlled environment at Fox News studios.
The discussion was focused primarily on alleged corruption in the financial sector that has been brought under the spotlight with the Occupy Wall Street protests. When O’Reilly cited Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O’Neal as an example, West asked his host why he cited the one of five black CEOs, to which O’Reilly shot back “knock it off with the black business will ya?”
Credit goes to West, Smiley and O’Reilly for engaging in an earnest, if not at times combative, dialog between what appeared to be diametrically opposed points of view. The only regret was that the debate was so short and not moderated, for this sort of discussion actually seems to bridge a divided nation instead of driving sides away from one another.