Why Obama's Going on Fox

Into the enemy camp!

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What's the president doing for St. Patrick's Day? He's going on Fox News to talk about health care reform. Politico quotes a White House official explaining the move: "Many of the falsehoods and myths about health reform gained traction with Glenn Beck and others on Fox, so the President is returning to the scene of the crime to make the final sale." The strong words underline how exceptional the decision seems given that the White House has been more or less at war with the network since the fall. (Extensive Wire coverage of the spat here). So why is the president heading into the lions' den now?

  • To Change Minds  It's "certainly worth a shot," responded White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, asked if he really thought the president was going to convince anyone.

  • Because He's in Big Trouble, retorts Fox analyst Brit Hume on the O'Reilly Factor. "What does the fact that he's doing that interview with the network they've attacked so repeatedly tell you? It tells you for sure, if you didn't know it already, they haven't got the votes."
  • Because It's Smart  Bill O'Reilly rebuts Brit Hume, his own guest. "There are a lot of independents who watch [Fox]."
  • Because It's Fox  "No other media outlet," argues Mediaite's Colby Hall, "has worked as effectively to undermine the administration's efforts to build a consensus [on this topic] as the very powerful opinion arm of Fox News."
  • Because He Hasn't Seen the Number We Have  "It sounds like a sensible calculation," says Newsweek's Sarah Kliff: "dismantle arguments about government takeovers and death panels, up popular support." But Newsweek's latest poll shows that while liberals do indeed increase their support of health care reform when given more information about it, conservatives don't.
  • Because This Is What Obama Does When Times Are Tough  "This isn't the first time that Obama has headed to Fox at a tough political moment," Politico's Michael Calderone reminds readers, "when it might prove advantageous to reach a broad swath of cable news viewers, and not just those already supporting his agenda." He recalls how Obama declined to give Fox a full interview for quite a while during the campaign, finally granting it the morning after the big loss in the New Hampshire primary.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.