Friday, February 07, 2014

When Sensitivities And Ego Collide

In a clash of egos and hurt feelings, the O'Reilly team and the Obama team went after each other on the interview GOP TV host and cable TV giant (literally) conducted with the President preceding Sunday's Super Bowl.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote

Along the way, he interrupted the president 42 times, by my count — although, given the amount O’Reilly spoke, it may be more accurate to say Obama was interrupting him. Sometimes he argued with Obama as though the president were a guest on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Of the 2,500 words uttered during the interview, O’Reilly spoke nearly 1,000 of them.

O'Reilly dutifully labeled Milbank "a weasel (who is) beneath contempt," although he added, so sincerely, "Whatever he says, doesn't bother me because I know where it's coming from."

Confronted by a Fox News reporter about her own reluctance to go head-to-head with O'Reilly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated "One of these days maybe I will. I was not pleased with the disrespect that he showed to the president, so that wasn’t a warmer upper."  The exquisitely sensitive Pelosi, who demands to be treated with respect, didn't explain what a "warmer upper" would be, other than to claim the disrespect "speaks for itself."   Bill O'Reilly is not sufficiently warm and fuzzy.

But the Speaker merely was following the script written by the President, which increasingly has been her role during the presidency of the man the California feminist chose over Hillary Clinton.  (She now is for Hillary Clinton. African-American president elected. Box checked.)  In the unedited interview (aired by Fox News the following evening), O'Reilly asked whether the President "thinks(s) I'm being unfair to you," to which Obama responded "Absolutely. Of course you have, Bill. But, I like you anyway."

But he is not likable, nor is he unfair, although  Bill O'Reilly certainly likes Bill O'Reilly and has extraordinary respect for him. Four days after the interview, the Fox News host revealed to Geraldo Rivera "I'm going to predict that that interview that I did is going to go down in journalistic history as what should be done.  It takes a certain skill to pose questions in a factual way and be persistent without being disrespectful."

Oh, please.  On Sunday, we heard the guy ask the President about the now-fixed, the trumped-up scandal of Benghazi, and the phony scandal of the IRS (video, below, debunking the right's fantasies),  and the Super Bowl.  There was nothing about the minimum wage, the capture during the Obama administration by the top 1% of virtually all income gain, the outsourcing and offshoring of high-tech jobs, the role of fast-track trade authority (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership) in the economy, inequality at home and abroad,  Secretary of State Kerry's effort at securing a stable peace in the Mideast, nor any substantive issues.  Instead, O'Reilly lobbed softballs, albeit ones intended to roil the anger of his base.  And the Obama team whined.

It was telling that before O'Reilly's quick concluding question (about the upcoming game), the host muttered "They're cutting me off." Journalistic history? Jon Stewart said it best: "it's the Super Bow pre-show.  You've got to play the hits."

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