Is Obama ready to make nice with Fox News?

After a meeting with Rupert Murdoch, Obama will appear on "The O'Reilly Factor" Thursday.

Published September 3, 2008 4:45PM (EDT)

If you're like me, you've probably been flipping on Fox News every day during this campaign, your breath catching in your throat, War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?" running through your head, hoping beyond hope that today just might be the day Barack Obama finally overcomes his hostility to the cable channel and sits down for a heart to heart with Bill O'Reilly.

Guess what? It's finally happening!

Thursday evening, the night of John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Obama will appear on "The "O'Reilly Factor." The appearance probably won't steal the media spotlight the same way McCain's announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate kept Obama from enjoying the afterglow of the speech he gave at his party's convention. But it will help Obama get at least some attention, not to mention put himself in front of Fox News viewers on a night the network should be attracting a substantial number of eyeballs.

To quote James Joyce's "Ulysses," though, "where there is a reconciliation, there must have been first a sundering." Obama's aversion to Fox News has been widely publicized. But apparently, a recent meeting with Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and network head Roger Ailes eased tensions on both sides. Michael Wolff broke the story of the summit in a piece in the latest Vanity Fair. Here's his account of the meeting:

It wasn't until early in the summer that Obama relented and a secret courtesy meeting was arranged ...

Obama lit into Ailes. He said that he didn't want to waste his time talking to Ailes if Fox was just going to continue to abuse him and his wife, that Fox had relentlessly portrayed him as suspicious, foreign, fearsome -- just short of a terrorist.

Ailes, unruffled, said it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand.

A tentative truce, which may or may not have vast historical significance, was at that moment agreed upon.

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz has more on the meeting. Kurtz writes that Ailes found Obama charming and gracious. Obama had been angered by what he called direct attacks on his wife, but Ailes assured the Democratic presidential nominee that quality journalism was Fox News' primary goal. Ailes tells Kurtz he said to Obama, "If you're asking me if we're going to be in the tank for you, like MSNBC and CNN, the answer is no." Ailes adds, "I wanted [Obama] to understand that we're a real journalism organization and we're going to cover what's there. We're not out to get him ... Neither of us was overly aggressive but neither of us blinked."

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Fox News Rupert Murdoch War Room