A Look Back At Fox News' Interviews With Obama Ahead Of His Sunday Network Appearance
Research ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN, BRENNAN SUEN & CRISTIANO LIMA
Chris Wallace will interview President Obama on Fox News Sunday April 10, marking Obama's first interview with the network since 2014. In past interviews, Fox figures including Wallace, Bret Baier and Bill O'Reilly have focused on Obama's ties to "radical" figures, hyped supposed scandals, lectured Obama on race, and interrupted him repeatedly.
President Obama To Appear On Fox News Sunday
Fox News Interview Marks Obama's First Interview With Network Since 2014. CNN's Brian Stelter reported on April 6 that Fox News host Chris Wallace will interview President Barack Obama on Sunday, April 10, marking the president's first interview on the network since 2014. Stelter reported that the booking is "newsworthy" because "Fox is viewed inside the White House as a kind of hostile territory":
For the first time in more than two years, President Obama is granting an interview to the Fox News Channel.
The president will tape an interview with Chris Wallace, the moderator of "Fox News Sunday," for broadcast on Sunday morning.
It will take place while the president is in Chicago this week.
Fox said in a press release Wednesday morning that "the interview will cover an array of topics, including the pending Supreme Court nomination, the 2016 election and Obama's presidential legacy."
Wallace has interviewed Obama three times before, including twice as president. But Fox is viewed inside the White House as a kind of hostile territory, so this week's booking is newsworthy.
Obama has not been interviewed by anyone at Fox since the beginning of 2014, when his usual pre-Super Bowl TV interview was conducted by Fox News prime time host Bill O'Reilly.
While the network draws a bright red line between news hosts like Wallace and opinion hosts like O'Reilly, Fox as a whole has been a home for the opposition to the administration's agenda.
At the daily briefing on Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, "Mr. Wallace has a well-established reputation for asking tough questions, so I don't think anybody's expecting a softball interview here. But I also think there are some important issues to talk about." [CNN.com, 4/6/16]
In Previous Interviews, Fox Hosts Have Focused On Obama's Purported Ties To Controversial Figures And Supposed Scandals
2008: Chris Wallace Questions Obama About Rev. Wright, His Former Pastor. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked about Obama's alleged ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright during an April 27, 2008, interview on Fox News Sunday, asking if Obama thought Wright, who had drawn criticism for making controversial statements, was "the target of a smear campaign":
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): I wasn't sure whether I was even going to ask you about your former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but he made it easy for me because he's now begun this ...
BARACK OBAMA: Right.
WALLACE: ... public campaign to redeem his reputation. The other night he said to Bill Moyers that he has been the target of a smear campaign.
WALLACE: Question: Do you think that Reverend Wright is just the victim here?
OBAMA: No. I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments that he had made in the past. The fact he's my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 4/28/08]
2008: Bill O'Reilly Asks Obama About William Ayers And Rev. Wright. During a September 2008 interview on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly asked Obama about alleged ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Weather Underground "radicals" including William Ayers and claimed that Obama has "some pretty bad friends." Obama disagreed with the premise, saying that "there's a whole bunch of stuff said on FOX about me that is completely biased," although he added, "I still don't mind coming on your show":
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): I'm sitting here and I'm an American. I'm sitting there in Bismarck, North Dakota, I'm sitting there in Coral Springs, Florida, and I'm seeing Reverend Wright, I'm seeing Father Pfleger, who thinks Louie Farrakhan's a great guy, I'm seeing Bernadette (sic) Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Weather Underground radicals, who don't think they bombed enough, I'm seeing MoveOn.org, who says "General Betray Us," and I'm seeing you go to a Daily Kos convention. And this week Daily Kos came out and said that Sarah Palin's Down syndrome baby was birthed by her 15-year-old with no proof. They put that on there. And I'm going, gee, that Barack Obama, he's got some pretty bad friends.
BARACK OBAMA: Hold on a second. I mean, there's a whole bunch of stuff said on FOX about me that is completely ...
O'REILLY: Correct the record.
OBAMA: ...biased. Well, but I still don't mind coming on your show. Just because there are a whole bunch of things that may be said on this network that I completely disagree with, I don't sort of assume that you have to take responsibility for everything that is said on FOX News, any more than I would expect you to take responsibility for everything that's said on Daily Kos. Think about it. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/10/08; The New York Times, 9/5/08]
2009: Obama To Wallace: "I Don't Always Get My Most Favorable Coverage On Fox." Obama told Wallace during a February 3, 2009, interview for Fox News Sunday, "I think it's fair to say that I don't always get my most favorable coverage on Fox":
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Let me throw another one at you and you tell me whether this is an exact quote. You were widely quoted, when you met with the House GOP caucus, saying, go ahead, (inaudible) I'll watch Fox News and feel bad about myself.
BARACK OBAMA: That one I did say.
WALLACE: Is perhaps -- let me just raise the possibility -- are you a trifle thin-skinned?
OBAMA: No, no, no. I said it in good humor. I think everybody understood that that was a joke.
No, I think, Chris -- I think it's fair to say that I don't always get my most favorable coverage on Fox, but I think that's part of how democracy is supposed to work. You know, we're not supposed to all be in lock step here, and you've always been very gracious to me. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/3/09]
2009: Fox News Conducts "Lightning Round" Interview With President Obama. In a November 17, 2009, interview with Fox News, former Fox News reporter Major Garrett asked the president to "indulge yourself, if you will, in short answers" as he was trying to ask as many questions as possible:
MAJOR GARRETT: Very good. Ah, we have a lot of ground to cover, kind of a lightening-round nature to this, I'll have short questions, indulge yourself, if you will, in short answers. A couple on health care. [Fox News.com,11/18/2009]
2010: Fox Host Bret Baier Frequently Interrupts President Obama During Interview. The Huffington Post criticized Fox News host Bret Baier for repeatedly interrupting President Obama during a May 17, 2010, interview on Fox News' Special Report, with Newsweek calling the interview an "interrupt-a-thon." Baier later acknowledged and apologized for the interruptions, saying, "I tried to get the most for our buck here." The Huffington Post wrote:
Fox News' Bret Baier interrupted President Obama so many times during Wednesday's interview that Newsweek described the encounter as a "interrupt-a-thon."
Baier acknowledged his repeated interjections at the end of the interview, by interrupting the president once more to apologize. Baier told Obama "I apologize for interrupting you, sir. I tried to get the most for our buck here."
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell said that he could not recall a reporter ever questioning or interrupting an American president in such an aggressive way. Certainly, O'Donnell argued, Fox News never took that approach with former President George W. Bush. [The Huffington Post, 5/17/10; Fox News, Special Report, 3/17/10]
2011: Bill O'Reilly Asks Obama If He Is Trying To "Redistribute Wealth" Through Policies Including The Affordable Care Act. On the February 6, 2011, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly repeatedly asked Obama if he was seeking to "redistribute wealth" through his policies:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): Wall Street Journal painting you as a pretty left-wing guy. You're going to draw the line.
Do you deny their assessment? Do you deny that you're a man who wants to redistribute wealth?
BARACK OBAMA: Oh absolutely. Absolutely.
O'REILLY: You deny that?
OBAMA: Absolutely. Bill, I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years. I lowered taxes for the last two years.
O'REILLY: But the entitlements that you champion do redistribute wealth in the sense that they provide insurance coverage for 40 million people who don't have it. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/6/11]
2011: Fox Nation Questions Obama's Decision To Not Wear A Tie During His Interview. After his February 6, 2011, interview on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News' Fox Nation posted a picture online questioning Obama's attire during the network appearance. [Media Matters, 2/5/11]
2013: Wallace Asks Obama About His Approach In Syria. Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed Obama about whether he would seek congressional action over the conflict in Syria during a September 9, 2013, interview on Special Report, asking if he would "delay a congressional vote ... until you see where this goes":
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): So would you delay a Congressional vote...
BARACK OBAMA: (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE: -- until you see where this goes?
WALLACE: -- but, sir...
OBAMA: But I...
WALLACE: We have limited time.
WALLACE: I just want to ask, will you delay a vote?
WALLACE: But you think...
OBAMA: -- several days...
WALLACE: -- that's going to go over a couple of weeks?
OBAMA: Uh, I do believe that it's going to take some time. Look, uh, you know, Chris, you a -- you guys have polls and, uh, you do head counts. And right now the American...
OBAMA: -- right -- right now, the American people are not persuaded. Right now, members of Congress, who are just getting back, still have questions. [Fox News, Special Report, 9/9/13]
2014: O'Reilly Lectures Obama On Race During Super Bowl Interview. During his February 2, 2014, interview of Obama, O'Reilly told Obama how to fix "the culture" of African-Americans:
Despite President Obama's efforts to address problems that plague the African-American community, Fox host Bill O'Reilly insisted Obama never addressed the problems explicitly and lectured him on how save the black community. In his interview with the president, O'Reilly continued his condescending effort to attribute historic problems in the black community to what he called "the culture."
On the February 3 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly played unaired portions of his interview with Obama. During the interview, O'Reilly asked the president why he and first lady Michelle Obama never "explicitly" address problems in the black community, citing statistics about families[.]
Unfortunately for O'Reilly, President Obama has been consistent about his message to the African-American community. In a June 2008 speech in in one of the largest black churches in Chicago, Obama sharply criticized absent black fathers, explaining, "[w]e need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception." [Media Matters, 2/2/14, 2/4/14]
2014: Obama Calls Out O'Reilly For Making Misleading Statements On Benghazi. During the same February 2, 2014, interview, O'Reilly told Obama that his "detractors believe that you did not tell the world" the attack in Benghazi, Libya, "was a terror attack because your campaign didn't want that out." Obama countered that people believe that claim because "folks like you are telling them that":
Fox News deflected from its role manufacturing scandals about the Benghazi attack by complaining that President Obama pointed to the network as a source of misinformation during a Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly. [Media Matters, 2/3/14]