O’Reilly Interview of Obama
Reminds Me of a Truman Story

 By Jim Berlin 

When it comes to politicians my hope does not spring eternal. When Bill O’Reilly did his pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama, it did not spring past the first 60 seconds.

Obama, nattily dressed in a tailored Teflon coat, easily danced and slip-slided through questions on Benghazi, IRS harassment of conservative groups and why the ever-earnest-yet-always-confused face of Kathleen Sebelius still leads the government assault on health care.

All we learned for sure from the interview is the chief executive believes that – if not for Fox News and people like O’Reilly – hardly anyone would be saying bad things about him. Unfortunately, he’s right.

But Teflon coats are nothing new in the White House closet. In fact, we have to go all the way back to Harry Truman in 1950 to find an instance of a president speaking truth straight from the gut…

After severely criticizing the professional singing voice of Truman’s daughter, Margaret, Washington Post music critic Paul Hume received a letter from Harry: If we ever meet, Truman promised, “you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for your black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

 But here’s the really telling part of that story: Truman showed the letter to his aides before sending it, and to a man they warned him it would be a PR disaster. “You don’t know human nature,” he said.

When the music critic published the letter (fully expecting an avalanche of public sympathy), 80 percent of Americans stood up and cheered for Harry. Threatening to kick a guy’s ass for messing with your kid? That was just fine with The Greatest Generation.

But that was a different time, a different president. Before Teflon. When hope sprang eternal.

The New Face of Cable News:
Just One Big Story at a Time

By Jim Berlin
The cable news networks – Fox, CNN, MSNBC – are like a coyote in a petting zoo as it falls upon a squealing pig. Until the porker is reduced to a scatter of bacon crumbs, it is the center of the coyote’s universe. Nothing else exists.

The sheep is next on the menu, and until it is reduced to wisps of wool blowing in the wind, it is the center of the predator’s world. It never thinks of the pig again.

For the networks just two weeks ago the squealing pig was North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Would he launch a missile, invade South Korea, burn his collection of 20,000 Hollywood movies, start World War III?

Kim did nothing. Perhaps because Red China simply told him to sit down and shut up, but we may never know for sure because…

…The coyote moved on to the sheep.

For the last two days it has been the arrest of three more suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. The noses of the news hounds are totally engaged in sniffing out every aspect of the expanded investigation.

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It’s as if Kim and his threats to peace never existed.

It’s as if nothing else is occurring on the planet worthy of a hard look and good reporting.

Jody Arias, North Korea, the Boston bombing…exclusively and feverishly hawking whatever product has the most sizzle on a given day – to the eventual boredom of the audience and the detriment of covering our big wide world – is the new face of 21st century TV journalism.

The coyote has lost its way.