On July 31st Smart Politics outlined several reasons why Barack Obama should not follow in the footsteps of 2000 Democratic Presidential nominee Al Gore, who declined to grant an interview to Bill O’Reilly on his top-rated cable television news program, The O’Reilly Factor.
I argued that, in addition to Senator Obama stating he would appear on the Fox program back in January during the New Hampshire primary, Obama would gain favor among independents by heading into the ring that is generally considered to be one of the toughest media forums.
Still, despite O’Reilly’s reputation, I maintained politicians are generally, “Treated with respect by the host,�? and candidates like Obama, “Will not regret appearing on O’Reilly’s show.�? While the net benefits might not be substantial for Obama, I noted, “Not appearing will hurt him.�?
That analysis inspired several comments on this site from (presumably) Obama supporters, or at least O’Reilly/Fox News detractors, who scoffed at the notion that Obama should grant O’Reilly an interview:
“It would be absolutely stupid for any candidate to go on any show where the host is hostile to them and their agenda.�?
“The Democrat has very little to gain and a whole lot to lose from making an appearance. … I just don’t see it happening. And for good reason.�?
“Actually, there should be no discussion about why or why not Obama should go on Fox News. What would be the point? I say “screw” O’Reilly” and Fox News, too. Fox will manipulate the interview with their editing. No one will hear the real interview. Nothing positive will come out of an interview on Fox News for Obama. CBS and Fox News belong together, both are unfair and definitely unbalanced. End of story.�?
“For me, the major problem with Obama going on any FOX program is that it grants the network a sense of legitimacy that it should not be afforded. It does not follow traditional journalistic values and should not be treated as a news organization as such–it should be handled for what it is, which is a mouthpiece of the radical right-wing.�?
The disdain the left feels for O’Reilly (and Fox News) is well known by those who traverse the blogosphere, or who, for example, tune in to Keith Olberman’s Countdown show on MSNBC (which airs at the same time as The Factor).
But Obama apparently does not share these sentiments, and, if he does, his actions suggest otherwise, by scheduling this crafty counter-programming event during McCain’s big night. (Perhaps Obama realizes what even The Nation understands (the self-described ‘flagship of the left’): that O’Reilly is, “Soft on prominent players – no matter what their politics�?).
In this instance, Obama is not playing the tune sung by the left wing of his supporters, and is instead simply playing smart politics: O’Reilly will interview Barack Obama on Thursday, September 4th. The interviews will run in multiple segments starting Thursday night and ending next week.