So about those $16 muffins…

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No matter what FOX News tells you, DOJ did not pay $16 each for muffins
No matter what FOX News tells you, DOJ did not pay $16 each for muffins

I’ll get to those “$16 muffins” shortly, but first… in tonight’s Rewrite, Lawrence took you - blow by blow - through Jon Stewart’s bout with Bill O’Reilly. The interview came in two parts: the first which aired on The Daily Show’s television broadcast and the second portion which was a Daily Show web exclusive.

To watch the first 17 minutes of The O’Reilly Factor tonight (something I don’t recommend doing), you’d think Bill O’Reilly was the winner of this debate (that made Lawrence chuckle when I told him that during one of our show’s commercial breaks, tonight). O’Reilly showed his FOX News viewers several clips from his interview with Jon Stewart adding commentary painting evil all “progressives” with a very broad brush. O’Reilly also omitted portions of the interview where Stewart agreed that some spending cuts are necessary to balance America’s books.

But as Lawrence noted in tonight’s Rewrite, O’Reilly would not say that the Republican Presidential candidates’ blanket refusal to agree to a ten-to-one deal on spending cuts and revenue increases (watch that now infamous moment here) in a recent FOX News debate was “pinheaded.”

Watching the full clips of the O’Reilly/Stewart interview (included after the jump), you’ll find that O’Reilly repeated lectured Jon Stewart about government waste. Again, this is an issue where Stewart and O’Reilly found some common ground. And I think we can all agree that government waste is bad. But instead of talking about real instances where the federal government could do a better job with our tax dollars, O’Reilly cited the Solyndra ordeal and the so-called “Muffin Gate” while pointing his finger exclusively at the Obama administration.

Stewart did a good job of giving balance to O’Reilly’s repeated attempts to hang the problems with Solyndra around the President’s neck (read more on the mixed bag facts about Solyndra here).

But when it came to “Muffin Gate,” Stewart had no idea what O’Reilly was talking about. If you don’t either, I’ll explain. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General recently released a report stating that at a 2009 conference the DOJ paid a Hilton hotel $16.80 a piece for 250 muffins. That would be $4,200 for 250 muffins. Were that true, it would be an exceedingly ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. O’Reilly’s been talking about this since last week (and he again repeated this bogus claim on his show tonight).

This simply isn’t true. But how do I know that? How do I know that the Department of Justice didn’t pay $4,200 for 250 muffins? Simple. I read multiple reports that included statements from both the hotel and a DOJ spokesperson which clarified that much more was obtained by the DOJ for each muffin charge. I then politely asked the very same DOJ official, Public Affairs Deputy Director Gina Talamona, to email me an official version of this statement. I received that email with a document attached. The document included the DOJ seal on the top of the page, and it read in part:

So about those $16 muffins...

This is called research. It’s a pretty big part of journalism. What’s more, Bill O’Reilly would know the government didn’t pay $4,000 for 250 muffins if he read his own network’s website.

You can see all of Jon Stewart’s interview with Bill O’Reilly after the jump.

Bill O'Reilly, Jon Stewart and The Last Word The Rewrite

So about those $16 muffins...

Updated