Stupor Bowl: Obama vs O’Reilly

This is what happens when you let a non-journalist attempt to conduct an interview with a national leader.

Bill O’Reilly opened the interview with Barack Obama by thanking him for saving the lives of a couple of Fox News reporters. That, in and of itself, is a perfectly appropriate comment. The problem is that O’Reilly is exploiting the harrowing experiences of Greg Palkot and Olaf Wiig to promote the Fox News Channel. I have yet to see Fox report on the similar experiences of CNN’s Anderson Cooper, NBC’s Richard Engle, or CBS’s Lara Logan, who was not only roughed up by thugs, but detained by Egyptian authorities. O’Reilly’s purpose was to portray Fox News as the sole network of a courageous free press.

Next O’Reilly asks Obama when Mubarak is leaving Egypt. Did he expect the President to give him a date? Then O’Reilly editorializes saying that “the longer he stays in, the more people are going to die.” Maybe so, but a real journalist wouldn’t inject his opinion into the discussion. What’s more, O’Reilly had better check with his Fox News colleagues who are clamoring for the President to support Mubarak, including their “expert” foreign policy analyst John Bolton.

O’Reilly then addresses the legal battle surrounding healthcare reform. He asked Obama about a recent Florida ruling against the bill, but ignored the fact that 12 other courts have ruled in Obama’s favor. He even ignored it after Obama pointed it out to him. To O’Reilly, the only ruling that matters is the one that serves his partisan interest.

The next question is one that tests the boundaries of satire. Somehow O’Reilly thinks it is “fair and balanced” to ask Obama to respond to a Wall Street Journal editorial that said he is “a determined man of the left whose goal is to redistribute much larger levels of income across society.” Fittingly, the President laughed at the question. The editorial was not about healthcare or taxes or the deficit. Its title is The GOP Opportunity, and it is an undisguised blueprint for Republican electoral success. And if you’re confused about the Journal’s stance on GOP victories, they clear it up in the second paragraph describing the “real source” of the Party’s “power and legitimacy” is the Tea Party. Asking Obama to respond to this is not much different than asking him to respond to Glenn Beck’s accusation that he’s a Marxist.

But O’Reilly doesn’t stop there. His next question is framed as if coming from the American people, but is really his own perspective being projected on them. He asks whether Obama is “a big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom.” Obama laughs and, quite correctly, points out that it is “a lot of folks who watch you [who] believe that.” Whereupon O’Reilly admits that “They think way worse than me.” That’s an admission that his viewers are utterly delusional and ill-informed. And apparently he doesn’t care to set them straight.

In closing, O’Reilly asked a series of questions that would have embarrassed a high school intern on Entertainment Tonight: What’s the worst part of your job? What’s the most surprising? How have you changed? Are you annoyed by people who hate you? And then there was the obligatory question on who would win the Superbowl. Even there O’Reilly could not behave professionally as he tried, unsuccessfully, to paint Obama as not knowing anything about football.

I was against the President agreeing to this interview from the moment it was announced. Not so much because I didn’t think he would comport himself well – he did. But because it gives credibility to a network that hasn’t earned any of its own. I also predicted that O’Reilly would be on his best behavior knowing that this would be an audience far larger than his measly cable news viewers. Perhaps fifty times larger. And despite his unprofessional demeanor, he didn’t do anything that could be described as scandalously controversial.

The real problem with doing an interview on Fox is that it will be sliced and diced after the fact. Fox anchors and analysts will feature every minuscule sound bite that they think they can twist into a gaffe. And they will pretend that his cogent and thoughtful responses don’t exist.

Therefore, expect the exchange regarding the Muslim Brotherhood to get marquee billing tomorrow. While Obama in no way expressed support for the group, he moderated his answer to be certain that he could not be accused of meddling in the internal affairs of the Egyptian people. His purpose was to stand up for democracy and demonstrate faith in its ability to produce a positive outcome. But the professional Obama bashers on Fox will declare that he was not sufficiently disdainful of the organization. And they will declare it over and over again.

Barack Obama on FoxIf you need any evidence of how Fox plans to report on this interview, just take a look at how Fox Nation is already framing it. Their “Pic of the Day” is a snapshot from the interview with a caption that says only “No Tie?” Apparently that’s the most important thing that the Fox Nationalists derived from the interview. O’Reilly must be so proud. And just to tie a bow around the vile community that Fox cultivates, here is what they are saying about him in the comments section:

coinguy1945: Wha a pathetic looser Omammy is an illegal nigger that need to be assaniated by a good patriot.

Bill O’Reilly is one of the biggest critics of hostile comments on blogs. He went so far as to say that Marcos Moulitsas (of DailyKos) and Arianna Huffington (of the Huffington Post) are as bad as Nazis because he found some objectionable comments on their sites. I don’t expect him to be similarly outraged by this cretin’s comment, which he was so proud of he made it twice.

Notice that the second time he even asked for “the orders” to do his dirty deed. I think he meant that for Glenn Beck.


21 thoughts on “Stupor Bowl: Obama vs O’Reilly

  1. I dunno. Though I’ve been with you from the beginning on the liberal FOX boycott, Obama seems to have more than made a fool of O’Reilly. And while the edited tape may be beyond misleading, those who watched the interview in real time got the full picture. Maybe a handful of them will come to a different conclusion than the loser who left the same obscene message twice.

    We can dream…

  2. I can’t believe you’re serious Daphne. No offense, but you did see the Fox Nation headline. “No Tie”? Mr. Well Speak McClarity from Logical, Eloquentstonia could go on Fox and solve every single problem facing humanity, and if he was painted as a liberal or progressive they’d find a way to demonize him. Jeez, the Foxzis ask for orders outright. No way Obama isn’t pilloried starting first thing with “Fox and Friends”.

    • Upon reconsideration, I’m conceding your point, B8. Enough of the audience isn’t smart nor independent-minded enough to offset the propaganda attack Obama offered himself up to. My problem is I want people to be able to think for themselves. Not this bunch.

  3. No tie? That’s the new criticism? It’s the fucking Super Bowl. It’s a day of overeating bad food and wearing jerseys and football sweatshirts.

    I actually liked O’Reilly’s line of questioning and constant interrupting. It gave Obama the opportunity to answer directly his most ardent critics and it made O’Reilly look like a tool.

    As for Fox Nation, it’s no surprise a racist coward would post assassination wishes (and it’s no surprise he can’t spell “assassination”).

  4. “..O’Reilly is exploiting the harrowing experiences of Greg Palkot and Olaf Wiig…”

    Lie. O’Reilly’s mention of this incident was 100% appropriate. And he gave full-fledged kudos to Obama’s State Dept. for stepping in and getting the reporters safe haven.

    “I have yet to see Fox report on the similiar experiences…”

    Then you’re not watching them much. I have seen those mentions several times, including on “Hannity”.

    If you need any evidence about how Fox plans to report on this interview, just check out Fox Nation…”

    An opinion board is not the same as the news operation.

    • The Pic of the Day is not an opinion board. It is an editorial decision designed for fast consumption, on a journalistic site directly associated with the news operation.

      I disagree with your use of the word “lie” but I had the same reaction to your first point; I’ll have to take your word for what Hannity has said.

    • I can’t find any evidence that Hannity ever mentioned any of the other network’s reporters. If you have seen it several times you ought to be able to provide a link.

      • I don’t sit around in my PJ’s recording Hannity shows (or any other show, for that matter). Furthermore, I said that the plight of the other reporters were mentioned on other FNC shows, INCLUDING “Hannity”.

        • So it’s more than just Hannity…..And you still can’t prove it with just one example?

          Let me be clear. I didn’t say that there weren’t any mentions. I said that I haven’t seen any. Here’s your chance to educate me. Either step up or step back.

    • Scott, I notice you didn’t condemn the racist on the “opinion board” dropping the n-bomb twice and calling for the assassination of the president.

      • How often do people need to state that two plus two is four? That racist/violence comment is disgusting. I say throw him in jail – along with all the people hwo advocated for the assassination of President Bush. Satisfied?

        • If you’re asking how often do people need to state their opposition to repulsive racist and violent statements, the answer is: Every time they occur.

          And I am satisfied that you have now done so in this case.

  5. 12 judges did not rule in favor of obamacare. They were thrown out on technicalities. It’s 2 for and 2 against. Get the facts right….please.

    • I’m not sure what you regard as technicalities, but many of the dismissals were explicitly due to findings that the plaintiff’s case lacked merit.

      Even using your interpretation though, O’Reilly also ignored the two favorable rulings you cited.

  6. The President is clearly wearing a Flag Pin. Imagine the headline if he wore a Tie, but didn’t have the Flag Pin!

    “No Flag Pin?”

    • And O’Reilly clearly was NOT wearing a Flag Pin. TRAITOR!

  7. That comment on FoxNation was flagged, but not the others with “Stymie” references and references to fitting him (misspelled, of course) with a “treasonous tie”.

    • The second comment posted above is still on Fox Nation’s web site. It’s in a thread titled “Is Obama Trying to Channel Reagan?”

  8. I just watched Bill O’Riley’s interview of the President. He asked some interesting questions in the begining of interview, but after that, the thing that really caught my attention is that Bill is the rudest person I’ve ever seen. He’d ask a question and then interrupt the President before he could finish his answer. He wouldn’t let him finish anything. Maybe not all, but I was so caught up with his interruptions that’s couldn’t concentrate on anything else that was said. Now, my parents taught me not to interrrupt when someone was talking. Its just plain rude. Either Bill has forgotten this or his parents totally messed up when he was a kid

    • His tone and ‘body language’ while making those interruptions could very easily be described as overtly hostile. That’s his style with people he disagree with, he acts like a passive aggressive person who’s utilizing ALL his strength to restrain himself from throwing a right hook at the interviewee. Apparently him and Jon Stewart are into it again, as of this posting it looks like JStew might win. I know, you’re all shocked at where I stand there. Ha!

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