It is no secret. Bill O’Reilly is given to hyperbole at times, exaggeration at times, overstatement at others. Not often is the Fox News personality accused of subtlety and finesse. His interview with President Barack Obama, which is scheduled to occur during the Fox Sports pre-game show, is expected to be watched by tens of millions of people, given that many people tuning in to watch Super Bowl XLV also will also tune in for the pre-game show. But will the interview with President Obama live up to Bill O’Reilly’s prediction?
O’Reilly called in to the Fox News show Happening Now Friday and told them that the Obama interview would ” be the most watched interview in history. More people will see this interview than any other interview that’s ever been done in the history of mankind.”
As TV Newser pointed out when they caught the prediction, the “O’Reilly Factor” anchor will have a way to go to reach the pinnacle of the interview ratings. Barbara Walters currently holds the record, pulling in 70 million viewers with her Monica Lewinsky interview in 1999.
But Bill O’Reilly will have a little help from the lead-in to the Super Bowl, which last year posted the record for being the most watched television event in history, even surpassing the 1983 final episode of M*A*S*H. According to Nielsen Ratings, the Saints-Colts Super Bowl was watched by 106.5 million viewers (M*A*S*H pulled in 105.97 million).
Speaking with the President of the U.S. during the Super Bowl pre-game period has become somewhat of a tradition in recent years. Matt Lauer spoke with President Obama in 2009 for NBC. Katie Couric interviewed Obama in 2010 for CBS.
But there is an added element to this year’s interview. It is being conducted by a Fox News personality on Fox Television, a network President Obama and his staffers have likened to a propaganda machine. President Obama himself, in an interview with Rolling Stone in September, said that Fox News’ views were “destructive” to the country.
“The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history,” the President told the magazine. “Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition. It is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it’s been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his number-one concern is, it’s that Fox is very successful.”
Will Bill O’Reilly be confrontational with the President, much like he is with many of his guests? Will he ask he to elaborate on his comments on Fox News’ destructiveness? Will Bill O’Reilly’s prediction that the interview will be seen by more people than any other in “the history of mankind” prove true?
The Bill O’Reilly Fox News interview will be held on Fox Television at 4:45 p.m. EST Sunday during the run-up to Super Bowl XLV, which begins at 6:30 p.m. EST.
Douglas Stanglin, Rolling Stone, “Obama calls Fox News’ point of view ‘destructive’ to country,” USAToday.com
Molly Stark Dean, “Bill O’Reilly on Obama Sit-down: ‘More people will see this interview than any other interview that’s ever been done in the history of mankind’,” MediaBistro.com