Bill O'Reilly vs. Obama, Part 2: Is Fox News unfair to president?
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly asked the president: 'Do you think I'm unfair to you?' 'Absolutely,' Obama said. But experts differ on whether partisan news media are cause or symptom of a polarized electorate.
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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It happened soon after interviewer and interviewee finished a lengthy discussion about the roots of poverty in America. Mr. O’Reilly wondered why Mr. Obama did not address the fact that 72 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock, greatly increasing their chances of growing up poor. The president said he’d given at least 10 speeches on that issue and offered to send them to O’Reilly, if he hadn’t seen them.
“What’s interesting, when you look at what’s going on right now, you’re starting to see in a lot of white working-class homes, similar problems,” said Obama. “When men can’t find good work ... whether they’re black, white, Hispanic, it doesn’t matter, then that puts pressure as well on the home.”
Then, after a brief and inconclusive run through the issue of the Keystone XL pipeline, O’Reilly abruptly shifted gears.
“Do you think I’m unfair to you?” he said.
“Absolutely. Of course you are, Bill. But I like you anyway,” said Obama.
O’Reilly didn’t let things drop. He asked for specific instances of unfairness. Obama was a bit taken aback but said that in Part 1 of their interview, broadcast Sunday prior to the Super Bowl, O’Reilly had, in essence, asked if the administration was “wholly corrupt” on the IRS targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, the rollout of "Obamacare," and the investigation of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed a US ambassador.
These issues “are defined by you guys in a certain way," said Obama, referring to Fox News as a whole.
Then, the president expanded things a bit, saying that any chief executive has to be ready to take a lot of criticism. He wondered what Fox would do after his term was over.
“I’ve been a big moneymaker for you,” he said.
So was President Bill Clinton, of course, and so will ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, unless she declines to run. As O’Reilly noted, Fox was doing pretty well in the ratings prior to Obama’s election. There’s every reason to believe its conservative take on the news will continue to draw ratings after 2012.