Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama on Fox News

I didn't watch Obama on Fox News, but I caught excerpts on Talking Points Memo and Huffington Post. I've heard some people, notably Kos, complain that Obama is legitimizing Fox News by appearing on it, and that all they're going to do is spin his comments and make him look bad. So they see it as a net negative - Obama doesn't get anything out of it, and Fox has footage that they can manipulate for their own purposes.

Too bad. He did it, and I think he was fine. I like the fact that he started out joking with Chris Wallace, and the questions and answers that I saw were thoughtful on both sides. It highlights the fact that Obama is serious about this post-partisan new kind of politics. There is one thing about Obama that many people on the left don't appreciate: he isn't afraid of Republicans or conservatives, and he's confident in his ability to win some of them over. Going on to Fox News is a good way of doing that. Some of the people watching him will see a human being with a sense of humor that listens and thinks and doesn't fit the stereotype of the old-fashioned liberal. And then some of them will think he's trying to pull the wool over their eyes, and will find reasons not to like him. But if he didn't go on Fox, he wouldn't reach those people who are willing to listen to him.

And I think Obama understands something about Fox that many people don't. This is mostly conjecture on my part, but my guess is that Fox is not a monolithic corporation dedicated to one cause. Corporations, even ideologically defined and determined ones like Fox, have a lot of different people in them, and those people do not necessarily agree with each other, or even with the company they work for. And even the agenda of the organization as a whole can be fluid. If Obama actually does become president, Rupert Murdoch might want something from his administration. Murdoch is not Rush Limbaugh; he's conservative, but he's first and foremost a businessman, and a very good one. Pushing a conservative point of view has been a good way for Fox to make money, but if the agenda interferes with the money, Murdoch will go after the money first.

I think Obama probably won a few voters, and convinced a few more to at least consider listening to him. And he neutralized some of the attacks on him.

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