Ifill and Woodruff rep the NewsHour on ‘The Colbert Report’

Stephen Colbert thinks it’s a good idea. But the new co-anchors of the “PBS NewsHour” will take a pass on his suggestion of having Mark Shields and David Brooks “fight in a pit.” “That would be exciting! It’s modern bear baiting,” the Comedy Central anchor quipped Wednesday night as he hosted Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff on “The Colbert Report.”

The two newswomen went head-to-head with Colbert and his brand of extreme satire. Colbert nudged the PBS anchors about being beholden to “Big Donator” and the value of old-fashioned news reporting versus exposing viewers to emotionally charged opinions.

“Here’s the problem with you two … you’re very level-headed,” the comedian said. “When I watch the news I’m looking for emotion.”

Not at the NewsHour. Woodruff stood up for the show’s in-depth reporting format and its loyal fans. “Viewers are smart, they can make up their minds,” she said. “I think that is a new idea. I think frankly because most of what … you see on television today is about opinion.”

Ifill allowed that, sure, younger viewers crave entertainment when they choose to watch news programs. But she added a little zinger of her own.

“I spend a lot of time on college campuses where students say to me ‘I only watch Colbert’ or ‘I only watch Jon Stewart.’ And you know what I tell them? You guys watch us to find out what’s real.” Watch the segment from “The Colbert Report” above.