Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Three Short Takes on Political Television

BARACK OBAMA TRIUMPHS ON FOX NEWS: Barack Obama not only hit a home run in his long awaited interview with Bill O'Reilly on FOX NEWS, he knocked it our of the park, over the Green Monster!

Sports metaphors aside, Obama and O'Reilly make for terrific television. I can't wait for tonight's installment. Senator Obama is relaxed, articulate, combative, compelling and charismatic. He and Bill O'Reilly seem to have great chemistry. Barack Obama could not possibly have done his candidacy more good.

First, O'Reilly himself helps Obama immensely. O'Reilly's massive ego is an easy foil for Obama and O'Reilly seems to be willing to listen and to concede points. Yet Obama stands toe to toe when he needs to. He never yields to O'Reilly.

Plus, and even more important, Obama is gaining much needed human and up close face time with a gigantic part of the electorate that is devoted to FOX News. No amount of advertising can buy this coverage. By appearing on O'Reilly, Barack Obama appears both fair and fearless.

BARACK OBAMA PUTS THEM TO SLEEP ON OLBERMANN: Compare and contrast the dramatic, combative and compelling interview Barack has with Bill O'Reilly with the sleeper interview with Keith Olbermann. The problem is that Olbermann telegraphs the answer in every question. We learn nothing by watching the soft ball, gift wrapped straight lines supplied by Olbermann.

Once again Keith's problem is that he knows everything he wants to know before the interview ever begins. As a result no one learns anything.

BUT.... Just as we really learn a great deal by Obama's interview with O'Reilly, we might really learn a great deal if Senator McCain sat down with Olbermann. You can bet Olbermann would ask real, in depth and probing questions of McCain.

RACHEL MADDOW CURES INSOMNIA: I just love Rachel Maddow. I love her on Air America and I really loved her on Tucker Carlson's old MSNBC show. But, oh my god, what was that disaster we witnessed last night? To say that Rachel was awful is an understatement. The show was unwatchable. I know. I tried. Twice. Even TiVo couldn't save this snooze fest. You wanted to fast forward to the next commercial.

Rachel's problem is exactly the problem described above with Olbermann's interview with Obama. Rachel knew everything she wanted to say and provided the most boring list of guests, each of whom were ready and waiting to echo her every statement. The interviews were simply pathetic. Leading questions that telegraphed the answers she knew in advance she would receive.

Maddow can hold her own in any argument or intellectual discussion. What's missing from her show, so far, is anything resembling an intelligent discussion. The only compelling few moments came in her discussion with Pat Buchanan. But Buchanan is too lightweight to be a good guest for the near brilliant Maddow. And, I must repeat, Buchanan is no conservative.

If there was a television god, she would design a show where Maddow would face off with a real conservative like Sean Hannity. That would be great television and the viewers would learn something every night.

Let's hope Maddow and the folks at MSNBC tinker with her show and give it some life.


Unknown said...

I was unaware of Rachel Maddow (I have a neo-moritorium on watching TV news).

A quick look up shows she has had quite an education political science. MSNBC did not have her show. You-tube did have some clips of her doing radio, anything but boring.

I am wondering if what you saw of her show is a result of being 'packaged' too much.

Unknown said...

Does this mean Bill is not a right handed version of Olbermann? O'Reilly is not a conservative, just an odd guy with a big ego who is not a liberal.