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Dems Respond to Obama’s Fox Turn

Sen. Barack Obama’s appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor,” — TWI coverage and video here – revives the roiling debate among Democratic strategists, Obama aides and liberal bloggers over how to handle an influential cable channel that covers U.S. politics while opposing the election of most Democrats.

Fox’s tight and symbiotic ties with the G.O.P. are well documented, but that does not rule out a Democratic detente, since it is still owned by Rupert Murdoch, a pragmatic mogul who has famously made peace with liberal politicians here and abroad.

Fox’s Republican role is out in force on Friday, however, as the RNC began an offensive against Obama based entirely on Bill O’Reilly’s framing from The Factor. A new RNC attack file contends Obama offered “conflicting threat assessments on Iran” based on “his interview with Bill O’Reilly.”

Some Democrats were also concerned about the Obama-O’Reilly exchange on Iraq. “Instead of presenting a clear definition of how he will realize the promise of change after eight failed years of George Bush, [Obama] blurred the distinction between himself and John McCain on Iraq,” lamented a former aide to Chris Dodd, who thrilled liberal Fox critics in a more combative exchange with O’Reilly during the Democratic primary last year.

“He gave up his greatest strength – opposition to the Iraq War – on O’Reilly’s show,” the operative continued. “If Obama’s lucky, he gained enough new Fox-watching supporters to make up for the Democrats he just alienated.”

The Obama campaign had no comment on the appearance or reaction from Democrats.

Robert Greenwald, the director of the documentary, “OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism,” emailed a new video to supporters today. In it, he criticized Fox’s unbalanced treatment of Democratic politicians:

O’Reilly needled and interrupted Obama, trying to get him to simplify many of his answers — a far cry from the softballs O’Reilly lobbed at many prominent Republicans like Rudy Giuliani in the past.

In a separate interview with TWI, Greenwald said his new video shows how Fox News is using the same playbook this year that it effectively deployed against Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004.

“Those who don’t learn from history are forced to relive it,” Greenwald wrote in an email. “Here is proof positive of the Fox propaganda machine using the same language, the same tools the same attacks word for word against BO as they did against Kerry.” Raw Story, an alternative news site favored by the netroots, also criticized O’Reilly for a slanted, hectoring performance.

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