Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly's "Rumble in the Auditorium" debate hobbled by bad technology
After 90 minutes, it was tough to tell whether pundit Bill O'Reilly or comic Jon Stewart won their "Rumble the Air-Conditioned Auditorium" debate tonight.
But there was a clear loser: The company which provided the technology to livestream the debate to the world (on the website, the company listed was Los Angeles-based Nox Solutions).
That's because hordes of fans crowded Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets to complain that they couldn't access the online feed of the event -- even those trying to use Roku, a unit which places online content on TV screens. Some complained of viewing parties disrupted and even media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and yours truly had trouble accessing the feed.
Error messages and screens promising the feed might appear in seconds popped up for those who had paid in advance or were trying to sign up just before the event began. (I eventually accessed a working feed by using a link via Facebook emailed by a friend).
Organizers apologized via the @TheRumble2012 Twitter account and on Facebook, noting "Due to overwhelming demand, our servers have been overloaded. We apologize for any inconvenience and we're working to resolve the issue. If you missed any of the debate, it will be available on-demand shortly after."
Those lucky enough to get onto the livestream, saw an event where moderator (and former VH1 VeeJay) E.D. Hill tried asking serious questions about politics, media and public discourse, while Stewart and O'Reilly alternated between lobbing jokes at each other and presenting half-finished serious ideas.
Stewart called O'Reilly the "mayor of B---sh-t Mountain," noting that he worked for a newschannel where more viewers believed President Obama was a Muslim than believe in evolution. O'Reilly joked about Stewart's small frame, asking if he needed a lift to get on his podium and snarking that his views of government sounded like Deepak Chopra.
Stewart was the clear star of the event, facing a crowd of his people -- news nerds and college students -- gathered at George Washington University's Lisner auditorium. And the Daily Show host was better at being serious than O'Reilly was at being funny, so he held up his end well no matter where the conversation turned.
I'll have a more thorough analysis later in the evening -- after I watch the archived version of the event to see the first half that I missed.
But here's a Storify of the tweets I pushed out during the event, to give a sense of how the evening flowed.