Barack Obama Falls Into Fox News Sunday Trap

Fox News has begun airing promos announcing that Barack Obama will appear this week on Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday. This is a huge error in judgment and is sorely disappointing. There is literally no advantage for Obama to subject himself to the prejudices of a network that is overtly hostile to his candidacy. What’s worse is that Obama seems to be capitulating to pressure applied by Wallace himself.

Last month, in a fit of pique, Wallace launched the Obama Watch to shame the candidate into granting Wallace an interview. The whole ploy was unprofessional and innately biased as it sought to portray Obama as either uncooperative or afraid. Having succumbed to the tactic, Obama will now be interrogated by a man who has called Democrats “damned fools” on a network that is an endless loop of Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers videos, when they aren’t talking about how elitist or unpatriotic he is.

At this point in the Democratic primary every appearance, every speech, every minute of a candidate’s time is precious. Why Obama thinks that this engagement with Fox in any way benefits him is inexplicable. The potential audience has little to no value for Democrats. And as the perennial fourth place finisher out of the four Sunday news shows, the potential audience is also, well … little.

My previous article, “Fox News: For Republicans Only,” shows clearly that Fox is unabashedly partisan. It’s CEO, Rupert Murdoch, is maxed out to both John McCain and Hillary Clinton in campaign donations. Nothing for Obama. For evidence of Murdoch’s hostile intent one need only to refer to his New York Post’s endorsement of Obama that reads more like an indictment. [See Starve The Beast for a detailed analysis of why it is not only pointless, but harmful, for Democrats to appear on Fox News]

This is nothing but a trap. It makes Obama look small for having conceded. It exposes him to risks from a pseudo-news operation that is working openly with his opponents to orchestrate his defeat. A strong performance will net him nothing because the audience is limited in both size and ideological diversity. It will end right there. But the slightest misstep will be magnified a hundred fold throughout the Murdoch empire. Look for any rhetorical slip to be broadcast incessantly on the Fox cable and radio networks. Watch for it to be published in over 100 News Corp. newspapers and magazines. Then wait for the rest of the media to pick it up and pile on.

Obama on FoxIn addition, Obama’s presence will lend his credibility to a news enterprise that has none of its own. Fox will immediately brag about having made him cry “uncle” and cite it as a victory that proves that they cannot be ignored. They may even edit Obama into future network promos as they just did with Clinton’s campaign chief, Terry McAuliffe.

We can only hope now that Obama has a change of heart or a scheduling conflict that forces him to cancel this interview. Almost any other use of his time will be more productive since this use will be only counterproductive. Fox only wants this so that they can build themselves up and tear the likely Democratic nominee for president down. No good can come of it.

Update: It didn’t take long but, just as I predicted, Fox is already bragging about Obama’s retreat. Chris Wallace responded to charges that his “Obama Watch” was obnoxious saying, “It may have been obnoxious but it was also effective.” He went on to boast that Obama must need Fox because of his loss in Pennsylvania. I told you so.


7 thoughts on “Barack Obama Falls Into Fox News Sunday Trap

  1. Murdoch is soooo partisan, Look he gave money a A republican and A democrat! Just not YOUR FAVORITE DEMOCRAT

    • Do I really need to explain to you Murdoch’s motives? Do you really think that he is NOT partisan? Hint: He is also a businessman.

  2. Actually, Obama promised Wallace he would appear on Fox News Sunday over TWO YEARS ago. While actually expecting him to keep his word is, I’m sure, unfair and racially motivated in your estimation, those are the facts nonetheless. I suspect he’ll do the same stellar job he always does when he’s not transfixed by his teleprompter or when he gets a question a little more difficult than “Beatles or Stones?”

    • I’m sure Obama might have told Wallace he’d be happy to come on his show sometime. That does not constitute a promise. And that was before Fox began a program of slanderous lies about madrassas, lapel pins, etc.

      • In March 2006 Wallace met personally with Obama who agreed to appear on FNS. Wallace has used the word “promised” though I’ll stipulate that Obama, as a typical politician, might have a more elastic definition for giving ones’ word. BTW, “sure” and “might” would seem, logically, to be mutually exclusive.

  3. While I agree that going on Walllace’s program was a terrible idea I don’t *necessarily* think going on Fox once is a bad idea. I think about John Stewarts appearance on Crossfire as evidence that a well prepared individual who is prepared to guide a discussion rather than have it directed by a Hack pundit can make an appearance on a worthless program a productive experience. You are right in almost every regard though and Obama’s basic civility prevents him from taking the only productive approach to any time spent on Fox News.

    • Since you agree with almost everything I say, I should leave well enough alone, but…

      My objection to going on Fox doesn’t rest on whether the subject would perform well. It’s not that hard to trip up hacks like Wallace, Doocy, etc. I just don’t want to transfer the legitimacy and integrity of our spokespeople to a network that I regard as less credible than the National Enquirer.

      You do make a good point about Obama’s temperment not being suitable for the sort of ‘productive’ exchange that we’d like to see if someone does go on Fox.

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