Hillary Clinton sat down for a relatively cordial interview with Bill O’Reilly this week, following up on Barack Obama’s Fox News appearance over the weekend, but the sit-downs are expected to do little to help either Democratic candidate reach undecided voters and could sets back progressive efforts to expose the network’s conservative bias.
“Anything you do to try to help Fox will be turned against either or both of them,” said Brave New Films’ Robert Greenwald, who created the 2004 film “Outfoxed” and continues to uncover evidence of Fox News’ emphasis on Republican views.
In the first part of Clinton’s interview with O’Reilly, which aired Wednesday night, she said she “expects nothing less than fair and balanced” coverage from the network. This was a few minutes after the host accused her of advancing “socialist” tax proposals and said her healthcare plan would “bankrupt the country.”
Greenwald, MoveOn.org and others in the progressive blogosphere led an effort last year to encourage Democrats to boycott the network; they succeeded in getting candidates to refuse to participate in a Fox News sponsored debate that was eventually canceled.
Greenwald said Clinton’s and Obama’s decisions to go on Fox would not stop progressive efforts to counteract the network’s reach, although he said they certainly weren’t helping anything by appearing. Fortunately, advancing technology makes pushing back even easier now than it was four years ago when his film debuted. “Outfoxed” took nine months to put together, while Brave New Films was able to rebut O’Reilly’s claim that there were no homeless veterans within 48 hours.
On Sunday, Obama sat down with Fox News Sunday, ending the “Obama watch” its host, Chris Wallace, began more than a year ago. The Illinois senator was criticized for legitimizing a network that has been at the forefront of advancing negative, personal attacks against him. Fox News spread untrue rumors that he attended a Muslim madrasa as a child and it was Fox host Sean Hannity who suggested that he be asked about a tangential association with former Weather Underground member William Ayers.
Clinton followed that appearance with an hour-long interview the Fox host who is perhaps most despised on the left. Clinton’s campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe has also praised the network as “fair and balanced,” and the network turned that accolade into a promo.
Greenwald, who spoke to RAW STORY by phone Thursday, said Clinton’s and Obama’s decisions to speak to Fox were particularly misguided because so few of its viewers were likely to vote for either of them. Surveys have shown the networks viewers are overwhelmingly conservative and supportive of the Republican Party.
Furthermore, he said, its simply a fantasy to think the network would change its negative coverage of whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee because of these efforts to placate them. If Obama wins, you can bet segments on his flag pin, former pastor and Louis Farrakhan will continue until November. If Clinton snags the nomination, expect in depth examinations of Whitewater, impeachment, pardons and anything else Fox can find in Clintons well rummaged baggage.
“What we will know for sure,” Greenwald says, “is that Fox will turn and attack with increasing viciousness and distortions and name-calling whoever the nominee is.”
This video is from Fox’s O’Reilly Factor, broadcast April 30, 2008.