Beyond the fact that Fox will use this White House move to boost their ratings (Obama winning the election has always been their golden ticket — they’re on track now for their best year ever), it makes it seem as though they’re actually wounding the president. When you’re winning, acknowledging the enemy isn’t necessary. (Remember when Obama wouldn’t do those ten town halls with McCain?)
And this will allow mike-toting bullies like Glenn Beck to claim that they’ve cowed the president. No doubt we will hear in the coming weeks that Obama is “afraid” of Fox News. When he spoke to every network except for Fox last month, host Chris Wallace called his administration “the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington.” Glenn Beck would never have the balls to say to Obama’s face what he’s said on air over the past few months. And now he’ll never have to. Bill O’Reilly, at least, during the election, went toe-to-toe with Obama. But he was positively docile, for him, when he did it — distinctly more polite and deferential than he is to almost any other liberal-leaning guest. O’Reilly, whatever you think of him and his opinions, is undoubtedly an intelligent, well-researched guy who is quick on his feet and firm in his convictions, which are largely unhysterical. Glenn Beck doesn’t have the wit, the knowledge, or the spine of Bill O’Reilly — but now we’ll never get the chance to see that proven.
Barack Obama himself doesn’t need to answer all of the insane rhetorical questions asked of him by Glenn Beck and his compatriots. That would obviously be a mistake. But legitimizing Fox News in this manner seems nearly as bad. Either way, he’s playing their game.