Did you catch the Bill O'Reilly interview with President Obama before the Super Bowl? The media is still buzzing about it. Not because Obama really revealed anything that ground-breaking during the one-on-one, but because it was just another example of how the President has to put up with being treated like crap by conservatives.
Now, it comes as no surprise to me that O'Reilly was confrontational with Obama. It's his schtick after all, especially with anyone he deems "LIBERAL!" (Although, a lot of time was spent sharply accusing the president of moving to the center, which you'd think would PLEASE O'Reilly. But I guess not.) It's one thing to be a tough critic, but of course, O'Reilly -- and FOX News, for that matter -- only do what they do best when they're going to an extreme.
Thus, the vitriolic commentator apparently felt it was necessary to interrupt the president 48 times in order to do his job.
NEVER, in my four years of journalism school, was I taught that the best way to get information out of your source is to act like an annoying type-A student who always has the "right" answer to the teacher's question or to cut your source off mid-sentence or to patronize them. But Bill O'Reilly is not a journalist. He's a sensationalist entertainer, hired by the GOP press office FOX News to yak his face off on national TV. Oh, and to sometimes heckle interview the President.
Well, Obama agreed to it. Because he wants to play Mr. Nice Guy. But I tend to agree with BIll Maher, who on last night's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell said:
I just feel like the most difficult part of [Obama's] job must be to quelch the rage that somewhere must be inside him to say, "I’m the President of the United States, you don’t talk to me like this. I’m not some left -- I’m not Al Sharpton you know, I won this job." And Bill O’Reilly who claims he’s such a patriot -- how unpatriotic it is in my view to treat a President that way. How does that look to other countries when you’re interrupting and belittling?
To quote the President, let me be clear ... I am not saying O'Reilly should have just sat there and read questions off of a bulleted index card, allowing Obama to take his sweet time with lengthy, speech-like responses. A successful interview requires give and take, back and forth. But O'Reilly could have stood to dial the combative FOX schtick down a bit and approach this interview more like a respectful conversation and less like a debate. (Sorry, Republicans, it's not election time YET.)
Curiously enough, at the end of the interview, a whole new O'Reilly came out ... the chummier version! He buddied up to Obama asking, "Oh, you gonna watch the game? Oh yeah, who do you think is gonna win? Do you know football?" They even seemed to make amends. O'Reilly said, "I have to say, I enjoy talking to you, I hope you think I'm fair -- I try to be. I wish you well." Kinda makes me think -- similar to other Republican rhetoric, e.g., "Yeah, we're gonna take down health care reform!" "Grrr ... I'm a Mama Grizzly!" -- O'Reilly's mostly bark, little bite.
Check out the 48 interruptions via Wonkette and tell us: Do you think the President deserved more respect or is it a journalist's job to constantly interrupt?