The Most Telling Moment of the O’Reilly/Obama Interview

oreillyI largely agree with Bernie Goldberg’s assessment of Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama on Superbowl Sunday. It was pretty uneventful. News wasn’t made, important questions went unanswered, and there just wasn’t a lot of value for most viewers to gain from it.

As someone who has a deeper interest in politics and the media than most people, however, I did find one moment of it to be fairly interesting. It came when O’Reilly asked the president, “Do you think I (not Fox News) am being unfair to you?”

The president predictably answered yes. When he was asked to elaborate on why he didn’t believe O’Reilly was covering him fairly, he began listing the previous topics that O’Reilly had asked him in the interview: Obamacare, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi.

I found this pretty telling in an interview that otherwise didn’t tell us a whole lot. You see, it didn’t seem to be the specific questions that Obama felt were unjust. In fact, I’ve hardly seen any reactive criticism of the questions that were asked, even from from the liberal left. No, it was the issues themselves (and the insistence of O’Reilly to ask questions about those issues) that seemed to be what the president was categorizing as “unfair.”

Now, I certainly understand why President Obama would prefer not to discuss such topics ever again. They make him look bad. But are those topics unfair to bring up with the president? I think any fair-minded person (pun not intended) would answer no to that question.

Even the New York Times (a paper generally very favorable to President Obama), in a piece written by Peter Baker on the interview, classified the topics O’Reilly referenced as “the most controversial moments of Mr. Obama’s presidency.”

It sure seems to me that it would be nothing short of media malpractice not to ask a president about the most controversial moments of his presidency when given the opportunity – especially when no one has been held accountable for those moments, and several legitimate questions about each of them have never been answered. In many cases, they haven’t even been asked – not by journalists who aren’t employed by Fox News, anyway.

To me, that’s perhaps the most remarkable part of all of these scandals. Because the mainstream media has never given them the attention they truly deserve, the conservative media’s pursuit of answers and accountability comes across like a cheap shot – a below-the-belt strike that President Obama deems to be unfair.

An interesting question for someone in the media to one day ask President Obama would be whether or not he felt the media coverage of political controversies during the Bush era was fair. I wonder what he’d say about the 60 front-page New York Times stories on Abu Ghraib, the media-obsession  over Plamegate, and the intense scrutiny of the dismissal of U.S. attorneys. None of those controversies ever rose to the level of significance that the aforementioned Obama controversies do.

No one died at Abu Ghraib, unlike in Benghazi, and blame for the incident wasn’t placed on some fabricated story and scapegoat. Millions of Americans weren’t affected by Plamegate like they were by the lies told about the Affordable Care Act. The legal dismissal of 7 U.S. attorneys isn’t anywhere in the ballpark of hundreds of conservative groups being targeted with extra scrutiny, harassment, and stall tactics by the IRS.

The mainstream media was clearly very proud of their aggressive coverage of Bush’s controversies. But when the stakes are much higher with a Democratic president, Fox News’ pursuit of answers is deemed by the president and also much of the media as being unfair. Isn’t that interesting?

And let’s be frank about one more thing: If George W. Bush skirted around answering questions on controversial topics the way President Obama did with Bill O’Reilly last Sunday, there would have been an absolute uproar from every corner of the national media. And if Bush had responded to such questioning with answers like, “I try not to focus on the fumbles, but on the next playFrom a Dead Sleep by John A. Daly” few in the media would have found that at all acceptable.

There absolutely is unfairness surrounding stories like Obamacare, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, but it doesn’t come from the idea that the conservative media is too fevered in their pursuit of answers. It’s comes from the fact that the rest of the media is largely disinterested in going after the truth.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • TerriGeer

    Since the so-called scandals weren’t scandals at all, the President has a very good point. In fact, they were all investigated and determined to NOT be scandals.

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      ‘In fact’ nothing. In most cases, the investigations haven’t even been completed so determinations have yet to be made. The president’s statement that they HAD been made forced a lot of people from both sides the the aisle to scratch their heads.

  • ulyssesmsu

    Softball interview, meaningless questions, softball follow-ups. O’Reilly continues to make excuses for Obama because O’Reilly’s #1 concern is how he can promote Bill O’Reilly. To do that, he needs access to the powerful, and he gets it by not offending them.

  • agular17

    Fair is where you get corn dogs.

  • Concernedmimi

    Obama should be impeached for being a lawless POTUS and wouldn’t it be glorious to be able to charge the lame stream media with treason, because that’s what they are really guilty of. When in fact, they are just a bunch of Obama’s useful idiots with their heads up their…..!!!!!

    • boats48

      The Sargent at Arms of the House should be sent to the White House with a Marine detachment to arrest this arrogant, pompous, liar. He is, at the very least, derelict in his duty to preserve & protect the Constitution of the United States and has not “faithfully” performed his task as President of this country. At the same time another detachment should be sent for Eric Holder.

  • deb

    What would JESUS do plain and simple for chriistians

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      Thanks for that informative input.

  • Royalsfan67

    I think the mainstream media learned their lesson by covering the hostages in Iran on a daily basis. It got them Ronald Reagan. They never want to repeat that mistake again. If that happened to an embassy today, by day 30 we would be hearing how our people were being treated so well and were bonding with their captors. No mention of Stockholm Syndrome would come out. Next we would be told most of the embassy was suspected of spying and they deserved to be overrun. And of course, it would be the fault of the evil CIA, Obama would have no knowledge that embassies on foreign soil actually had spying going on.

    • Kathie Ampela

      Very funny, and so true! It’s already happened…rent the movie Argo! The “blame America” narrative permeates the whole movie. The Ben Aflleck character is portrayed as heroic, but it’s all America’s fault for everything.

      The good news is that any anti-American narrative that would be perpetrated in a scenario like that would seal the fate once and for all of the mainstream media (and the liberal establishment). Fox News would have 300 million viewers and the rest of media would have about 57 people watching.

    • agular17

      Day 30! By day 3 they would be rerunning NBC comments on how great Putin is, just changing the names.

  • Kevin

    At least one person did die due to torture at Abu-Ghraib. Manadel al-Jamadi. Not saying you’re wrong about the biased media coverage, but you should get the facts right.

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      Fair enough point. He did die while in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib, but that revelation and the details of his death (for which there’s still some argument) didn’t come out until a couple of years later, after the obsessive media blitz had finally died down.

      My contention isn’t that Abu Ghraib shouldn’t have been a big story. I’m merely contrasting the level of scrutiny the media gave it as compared to Benghazi story which is a much bigger.

      Thanks for pointing that out, though. I should have worded that a little better.

  • Kathie Ampela

    Great points made in this column, John! Why is it Abu Gharib and Plamegate got wall to wall, endless coverage by the media, but the MSM sniffs and walks away from Benghazi, IRS and Obamacare? A U.S. embassy was attacked and 4 americans including the ambassador were murdered but the media have no interest in it? In 1979 the embassy in Tehran was overtaken by radical Islamists and 52 hostages taken and it was WALL to WALL news every single night for 444 days. The 3 anchors reminded viewers every night of their ongoing captivity (for those of us old enough to remember) and led to the election of Ronald Reagan. Now the only concern is consequences to a political agenda. And Plamegate?? The salivating of the media over the prospect of somebody, ANYBODY from the Bush administration going to jail over Plamegate but the most transformative piece of legislation passed by FORCE without a single republican vote and the media is silent? No questions on what’s inside the 2,000 page montrosity? (http://www.coachisright.com/special-reports/50-dangers-from-obamacare/)

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      Thanks Kathie. I was very young at the time, but I do remember the routine mention of the Iranian hostages on the nightly news.

      The media double-standards are indeed breathtaking.

  • Bob Olden

    I am so tired of the evasiveness of politicians when asked a direct question, I see it coming and a rage forms inside of me. It appears that they all go to a special school on evasiveness, and Obama must have a PhD! Or maybe he wrote the textbook. But hey, what can you do? How can you admit your failures and actually hold people accountable and still have any credibility? Wait a minute, those are exactly the kind of things that would make politicians more credible! Why can’t they (and especially Obama ) figure that out?

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      I’ve never seen anyone as talented at avoiding answering uncomfortable questions as our president. It’s one of his greatest talents.

  • gold7406

    the comparison to nixon, out of left field for sure, but it would be like interviewing nixon and not asking about watergate.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    Well at least (Obama’s) heart is in the right place. (ask Bill he’ll tell you) It reminds of the movie about Howard Hughes (the Aviator) where Alan Alda when grilling Leonardo DiCaprio (playing Hughes) during a Senate hearing, shouts about his (Hughes) competitior, that he loves his country and unlike Hughes, he’s not in it for money. Where Hughes (DiCaprio) sardonically responds, “that’ll come as a pretty big surprise to his stock holders”. Seems that lie still works. Although these days it’s only conservatives who are in it for the money. Unhappily, If your motive is profit, you’re evil. Unless you’re a union, left wing Holly Wood stars, Wall street financiers who donates to Democrats, left wing TV personalities, (this could take pages). In fact in one interesting story (I personally know) socialist liberal types, were actually skimming donations from a charity, on the basis that their political beliefs were so charitable (they had good hearts, and gave away tax dollars at every opportunity) that their political party (they believed) actually qualified them to receive these donations. But like Obama (I love how he refers to his “Chief Executive” experience), most couldn’t run a kool-aid stand. (at least without mommy and daddy supplying the sugar and the kool-aid). Well they say all we really need is love, but when the (proverbial) poop hits the fan, (and I suspect it will) I’d prefer a smidgeon of competancy.

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      It’s amazing how much criticism you can successfully escape just by being a liberal. ;)

  • CCNV

    At some point in the past, it looks like Dingle Barry saw a camera and leaned into the picture (above). Does O’Reilly know he was photo-bombed?

    • http://johndalybooks.com/ John Daly

      lol. It does kind of look like a photo-bomb now that you mention it.