In what will be considered either an impressive PR coupe or else embarrassing political blunder, Barack Obama will appear on The O’Reilly Factor to give a “pre-rebuttal” of John McCain’s speech to the Republican National Convention. It will air after the speech is given.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it is hosted by Bill O’Reilly, a conservative blow hard, who blows harder than nearly any other pundit on TV (although Keith Olbermann is getting close). The show is really one giant circus of idiocy brought to you by the good people at FOX.
Obama had previously taped the interview (his first) with host Bill O’Reilly.
Interestingly enough, reports surfaced this week that Obama had met with FOX’s owner Rupert Murdoch to discuss the network’s unbalanced coverage of the candidate. Perhaps the result of that meeting is this interview.
On paper this interview looks like a terrific PR move: respond to what will no doubt be strong attacks by your opponent on the very show that’s home to many of those attacks. Obama avoids “preaching to the choir” by skipping his home court, which is certainly the left-leaning MSNBC, for the much more conservative O’Reilly Factor. Not to mention The O’Reilly Factor is among the most popular cable news programs.
Again, good move on paper, but what, exactly, is the Obama campaign smoking? (Because, in this case, I don’t want any.) Unless his communicators have final cut privileges, which I’m certain they do not, how can they be assured the interview won’t negatively portray the candidate at such a crucial moment?
There’s much talk of the “bounce” in polls that convention speeches create. It looks like Obama’s speech last week has given him a slightly larger edge over McCain (although vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s speech might have something to say about that). Obama might smother McCain’s bounce by appearing on O’Reilly—or intensify it.
Either way, O’Reilly will draw viewers he’s certainly never had in the past—even me, if the Obama people share whatever they’re on.