Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Clinton Factor

It’s been a while, but I am finally following up on my previous promise to post some thoughts about Hillary Clinton’s appearance on the O’Reilly nonFactor last week. I am going to dispense with a link, but a Youtube search for “Clinton O’Reilly” brings up the clips blessedly sans commercials. Look for parts 1-4

I did catch the first night of the interview, but I did not have enough beer to slog through the second night. I’m listening to the second night as I type this.

First off, I have to say that Hillary did as well as can be expected from anyone going up against this pushy loudmouth. I am not supporting her candidacy for the nomination, but I do not necessarily disagree with every point she makes. Other than a passing praise of Ronald Reagan, I think Hillary turned in a solid performance even as I was trying to figure out how to kick my own backside for increasing BillO’s ratings.

I also have to grudgingly concede that BillO and Hillary generally stuck to the issues. It was not a whole discussion about Obama and Rev. Wright. We heard about Iraq, taxes, immigration, and the economy.

On the other hand, I have a few problems with the interview itself. Here they are:

One: BillO was his usual charming self. Watch any episode of his show and observe how anyone even a little left of center gets talked over and interrupted. BillO seems more interested in lecturing his guests than in engaging in a serious debate. If the role of the media is to report the news, then it stands to reason that the interviewee should be doing the majority of the talking. He’s hardly the only television reporter to use this strategy, but his style particularly raises my hackles. The most egregious example was toward the end of this clip where the two are discussing immigration:

Props to Hillary for not allowing BillO talk over her too much. It was clear that the Senator’s goal of appearing on Fox “News” was to get her message to a certain audience. She was not there to be spoken down to; she is running for president.

Two: The people over at Fox did not seem all that apologetic about their obvious ploy for ratings. After Senator Obama made history headlines by appearing on Fox, Clinton made the similar headlines for her Factor appearance. This is called “earned media” and it means free publicity.

What did Fox do with all of that “good will” bestowed from all corners? Exploited it, of course. At the very beginning of the first night, BillO mentioned that he spoke with Clinton for about an hour. Even with leaving some portions of the interview on the cutting room floor (as happens in the media), an average viewer might expect to see the hour-long exclusive take up nearly the full hour of the Factor. Not so much.

The four Youtube clips average about seven minutes each, or 28 minutes total. Even with commercials, I am certain BillO could have somehow squeezed 28 minutes of substance into his hour-long Factor. He might have even had time to give us some of his Talking Points that pass for nuggets of wisdom. Instead, BillO went ahead and made the interview a two-part special. In addition to artificially boosting the ratings, BillO was able to show analysis from Dennis Miller. I had just eaten, so I did not check out that part of the broadcast.

Three: BillO, please STFU about the tax rates on your ridiculously high tax bracket. Seriously, they spent a good chunk of time discussing how much more a Clinton administration would raise taxes on the rich. So much for that whole populist thing.

And four: This critique is for the lefty blogoshere. Quit whining about giving legitimacy to Fox because Democrats appear on the channel. For one thing, Fox established its legitimacy a long time ago (for better or worse). The more we scream about it, the more the other media outlets obsess over Fox. For another thing, the Republicans are not avoiding the allegedly liberal MSNBC en mass. Reaching across party lines means sometimes sucking it up and going on Fox “News” channel.

By the way, according to the pundits this race is apparently over. Unsurprisingly, this will come down to the superdelegates and I had a few thoughts on that back in February.


h/t to American Girl to pointing out that Canada offers Fox “News” Channel as a premium channel. Hard to believe those folks actually have to pay extra for to get Right Wing Noise Machine propaganda.

No comments: