Breaking News
Friday, 13 July 2012

On Super Bowl Sunday in 2011, President Barack Obama sat down for an interview with Bill O’Reilly. Five years earlier, O’Reilly had interviewed President George W. Bush.

Those two broadcasts provided Ryan Witt at Political with the data to compare how O’Reilly had behaved toward the two successive Presidents. Witt’s findings:
Both interviews were a little over 14 minutes long. . . . In the entire 14-minute interview of Obama in 2011 the President's longest answer was 51 seconds long. President Bush's first answer to O'Reilly's question lasts 69 seconds. Later in the interview Bush is allowed to speak for two minutes straight, something President Obama could have only dreamed of 2011. While O'Reilly does interrupt Bush a number of times in 2006, the nature of the interview is much less combative, and President Bush is generally given the right to finish what he is saying.

As documented in an earlier post, President Obama was interrupted 22 times in his interview with O'Reilly and given an average of 26 seconds to respond. In contrast, President Bush was given an average of 34 seconds to respond, and Bush is generally known as a man of less words than President Obama.

In 2006 everything was presented as a question to President Bush. Frequently O'Reilly would ask Bush about a criticism from Democrats like Hillary Clinton, and then ask Bush to give his rebuttal. In the 2011 interview, O'Reilly often would not ask a question but simply make a statement of fact. For example, after President Obama argued for the individual mandate in health care reform O'Reilly stated, "but you understand that a lot of Americans feel that you are a big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom." When Obama tried to respond that charge he was again interrupted and redirected by O'Reilly.
Other observers noticed the same pattern, using different metrics. Wonkette counted O’Reilly breaking into President Obama’s remarks 48 times, though he didn’t always succeed in derailing the sentence.

I looked at the transcriptions, which usually indicate interruptions only when they stop a sentence before it’s complete. FOX posted its transcript of O’Reilly’s Bush interview in three parts. All told, I count six times that Bush’s answers end in an incomplete sentence or request to finish a point.

FOX doesn’t appear to have archived O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama the same way, but Politics Daily has a transcript. I count nineteen times Obama’s answers end with a dash or ellipses mark, indicating that O’Reilly successfully interrupted the President’s statement.

As much as Bill O’Reilly likes to hear his own voice, he was largely able to curtail that desire when speaking to President Bush. But not when speaking to President Obama. Either he doesn’t respect this President as much as his predecessor, or he can’t stand to listen to generally intelligent, perceptive, and well-argued remarks from a man like Barack Obama. Either way, the videotapes and transcripts preserve clear signs of O’Reilly’s OIP Derangement Syndrome.


Post a Comment