Brian Birdnow
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Much has been reported recently concerning Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and his pre-Super Bowl interview of President Barack Obama. Many of the Obama cheering section are stating that this action showed Obama’s courage in the sense that he was willing to consent to an interview with a supposedly hostile reporter from an anti-administration television network. Conservative viewers, on the other hand, saw this as an exercise in frustration since the President answered no questions, and spent his time lobbing thinly disguised barbs at the interviewer, and the interviewer’s employer. So, few minds were really changed by this supposedly “courageous” decision by the President to sit down for a chat with Bill O’Reilly. Still, a few days later we had the spectacle of Dana Milbank, the Washington Post propagandist spinning this as a disgraceful effort by Fox to smear the President by turning a rabid dog loose on him, and encouraging the mongrel to attack. Milbank took his Obama hagiography to a new low, simply ignoring the President’s own attacks on O’Reilly and conservative media, and openly slanting this incident as a case of an ill-mannered television reporter showing insufficient reverence for our dear national leader.

A quick perusal of the interview transcript, and Milbank’s commentary on the face-off ignored Obama’s evasive responses to questions and his combative attitude when he continually chided O’Reilly for spreading misinformation, and Fox for providing him a soapbox. When O’Reilly questioned President Obama about the Benghazi attack of September 2012, he asked about the Administration’s reluctance to label this as a terrorist attack. He might well have asked if the President would shrug off an attack on American territory in the future as a non-story. In any event, President Obama blamed the tempest on Fox News, saying that “…they (the public) believe it because folks like you are telling them that.” Dana Milbank ignored the issue altogether and attacked O’Reilly for trying to elicit an answer from a slippery customer.

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Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.