The Democrats may be stuck with Obama, and Bill O'Reilly may have made them regret the choice. Hillary was at the top her game. She listened, talked on point, grasped the details and spoke with clarity and made cogent arguments for her positions. The New York Times noticed:
Democrats and Fox News Make Friends
By BRIAN STELTER NYT
Published: May 2, 2008
Standing in front of a television camera last week, the chairman of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign, Terry McAuliffe, uttered four words that the Fox News Channel would not soon forget.(the rest of the story)
“Fair and balanced Fox!,” he exclaimed, noting that the network was the first to project Mrs. Clinton’s Pennsylvania primary win.
Fox executives could not have asked for a more rousing endorsement. The next day it showed up in promotions.
All of a sudden, the once-frosty relationship between Fox News and the Democratic candidates seems to have grown warmer. Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama, who steadfastly refused to attend Fox-sponsored debates last year, are now giving plenty of interviews as they court Fox’s viewers, who are largely white, conservative and undecided.
“It’s probably true that we appeal to white working-class voters,” said Brit Hume, the network’s Washington managing editor and the host of “Special Report.” “The candidates are going where the voters are.”
Conversely, Fox seems to have softened its stance toward the Democrats, mindful of the intense viewer interest in the prolonged primary season. Although Fox News remains firmly in first place among news channels, CNN has crept up in the ratings on primary nights. So Fox wants to appeal to people who might otherwise flip the channel in search of more time with the Democrats.
In short, Fox News and the Democrats abruptly find each other useful.
“I think the candidates are starting to realize that they need to reach the people who we reach already,” said Marty Ryan, the network’s executive producer for political programming.
Last year the Democrats declined most of the network’s interview requests. Barack Obama rejected the network for so long that the show “Fox News Sunday” resorted to a public demand in March, showing a weekly “Obama Watch” clock that counted the days since the senator had promised an interview and failed to make good.
Then the thaw came. Mrs. Clinton has been on Fox 10 times this year, and Mr. Obama has appeared seven times, compared with three times for Mrs. Clinton and two times for Mr. Obama last year. Mr. Obama appeared on “Fox News Sunday” last week, perhaps in pursuit of moderate voters in Indiana and North Carolina.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Mrs. Clinton was questioned for an hour on “The O’Reilly Factor,” whose host, Bill O’Reilly, is something of a poster boy among liberal voters who think of Fox as the media arm of conservatives.
“You’re a polarizing personality,” Mr. O’Reilly chuckled during the interview. “You’re like I am, and I hate to say that,” he said. (Perhaps the same words could have been said to him by Mrs. Clinton, though they were not.)
The first part of the interview set a year-to-date viewership record for “The O’Reilly Factor,” according to Nielsen Media Research, with 3.66 million people tuning in, about one million above average.
Political calculations are evident on both sides. With Fox leading the coverage of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s remarks, it was logical for Mr. Obama to appear on Fox and respond.
“In the end, they don’t do it for us — they do it for themselves,” said Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the Democrats and their decisions to come on the show. He said that he assumed that Mr. Obama’s “defeats in Ohio and Pennsylvania convinced him that he needs to reach out to blue-collar, moderate and conservative Democratic voters.”