Friday, April 25, 2008

Obama on Fox: drinking the Kool-Aid or making lemonade?

Shorter me:

I just don’t see what Obama could accomplish on Fox that couldn’t be done better somewhere else.

Longer me:

As most are by now aware, Barack Obama has agreed to tape an interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace for air this weekend on Fox News Sunday. Good idea? Bad idea? What will he accomplish—for his campaign and for progressive causes, at large? First, take into account. . .

  • Fox’s audience is dwindling in general, and their campaign coverage is lagging behind CNN and MSNBC.
  • Of the Fox audience that’s left, a large chunk of them are doing the political equivalent of covering their ears and going “la la la la, not listening.”
  • Even unedited, Obama on Fox does not control the horizontal, does not control the vertical. The initial interview might air unedited, but it will be cut up and excerpted on other Fox shows as best suits their narrative. Clips will also be distributed among Fox fellow travelers to further perpetuate the nonsense issues that will no doubt be the red meat of Wallace’s questioning.
  • Obama can’t “go to the video tape.” It’s not his show—he can’t cut to examples of where he’s right and Bush/McCain/Fox is wrong. Alas, on a Fox show, Fox can plug in their own “gotcha” clips.
  • Other news organizations will be less likely to pick up large pieces of Obama since they will have to credit Fox for the clip.
  • Even if he says otherwise, Obama’s appearance on Fox undercuts roots efforts to delegitimize FNC, if for no other reason than his positive brand halo is extended over the Fox brand by having his face/voice/presence coupled with the Fox bug.
  • The Obama appearance will likely be a ratings boost that can be used by Fox to increase ad revenue.

All of that said, I guess Barack Obama is going to tape a show for Murdoch & Co., so I hope he’s got something special in the tank.

And, by “special,” I am not so much thinking about “taking it to Fox” (as much as I would like to hear that stuff myself—preferably from people speaking on networks other than Fox). Slamming Fox on Fox can just as easily appear angry or whiny to their viewers. I can even imagine the Clinton camp getting on him for not being able to “take it,” blah, blah, blah.

Sure, tell Fox that they are neither fair nor balanced, but then move on to tell America why.

Screw flag pins and “bittergate,” and elevate the dialogue to explain why the Fox take on the economy, on Iraq, on torture, on privatization, on healthcare, on global warming, etc. is dead wrong. Instead of spending a lot of face time with Fox’s loyal viewership going after Fox, spend that time going after Bush, McCain, and Republican Congressmen and Congresswomen. If there is some perception that Obama needs to talk to Fox’s audience, then he should talk to them about why they should vote for Democrats in November.

That’s the closest I can come to making a sweet citrus beverage out of this truckload of sour lemons.

Anything less will likely leave me parched and bitter.

(cross-posted on The Seminal and Daily Kos)

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