Following President Obama's address and question and answer session with Republican members of Congress at the GOP House Issues Conference, Fox News' three top-rated programs spent a combined total of four minutes and five seconds covering the event during the January 29 broadcasts. The event was widely praised across the political spectrum, and Marc Ambinder wrote that prominent Republicans "found their arguments simply demolished by the president."
Top-rated Fox News shows ignore Obama-GOP event
Top three shows devote just over four minutes to Obama-GOP event. The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009, combined to devote a total of four minutes and five seconds of coverage to President Obama's address and question and answer session with House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore.
Fox News' live coverage cut away from Obama-GOP Q&A but aired GOP "response" in its entirety. With twenty minutes remaining in President Obama's question and answer session with House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore, Fox News cut to The Live Desk co-host Trace Gallagher who asserted that Obama was "at times being a little bit combative" and that "there was a little bit of lecturing there." By contrast, MSNBC and CNN aired the event in its entirety. Fox News subsequently aired all of the "Republican response" press conference held by House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) after the question and answer session with Obama.
Media figures, including conservatives, praise event as an "amazing moment," and "good for the country"
Marc Ambinder: "I have not seen a better and perhaps more productive political discussion in this country in ...a long time." Atlantic Monthly politics editor Marc Ambinder called the event "an amazing moment" and wrote that "[a]ccepting the invitation to speak at the House GOP retreat may turn out to be the smartest decision the White House has made in months." Ambinder further wrote that "[p]lenty of Republicans asked good and probing questions, but Mike Pence, among others, found their arguments simply demolished by the president," and added, "This is no gimmick. I have not seen a better and perhaps more productive political discussion in this country in...a long time." [The Atlantic, 1/29/10]
Krauthammer: "I think it was good for the country." Conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer commented on Fox News' Special Report (accessed through the Nexis database): "I thought it brought out the best of Obama. It helped him a lot. It made Republicans looked good, but I think it was good for the country. Look, for Obama, he engaged in a fairly high level debate on policy with his antagonists and he showed his best qualities as a fine analytic mind. He was able to phrase and to frame his opponents' arguments in a clear way. And I thought he held his own quite well. I do think it should be something we ought to consider institutionalizing." [Fox News' Special Report, 1/29/10]
Hayes: "I hope they do this once a month." Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes also stated on Special Report: "Look, it was a nice event. It was a smart event. I think this worked for the White House and this worked for the House Republicans. I loved the exchange. I hope they do this once a month." He went on to say: "Overall, I think this is a good thing for the White House to do. It was a good thing for House Republicans. There should be more of this kind of exchange." [Fox News' Special Report, 1/29/10]
Politico called the event "a home run." In an article on the event, Politico's Jim VandeHei, Patrick O'Connor, and Glenn Thrush wrote that the event was meant to "make clear that [Obama] wants to work with Republicans and that the minority party deserves blame, too." The article continued: "By that measure, Friday's event was a home run." [Politico, 1/30/10]
Heritage fellow: "I think it's very good for the country." In an appearance on MNSBC's The Ed Show, former Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) and Heritage Foundation distinguished fellow commented: "I think it's very good for the country when the president and the GOP are sitting in the same room, having questions and answered exchanged, a little bit of contention. I'd like to see it opened up when the president meets with the Democrat caucus, and to see if he's saying the same thing to them as he says to other people." [MSNBC's The Ed Show, 1/29/10]
Malkin on Obama: "Good on him for taking part." In a post on her blog, conservative media figure Michelle Malkin wrote that "the session has been most compelling - the most transparency and openness we've seen since the start of his term." Malkin continued: "Good on the House Republicans for throwing the doors open. And, yes, I'm going to compliment the president: Good on him for taking part." She concluded: "Do this every week."[MichelleMalkin.com, 1/29/10]