Bill O’Reilly as good as admitted last night that Fox News’ war on President Obama’s contraception has failed. He noted that cable news ratings on the segments were “not good” and that Obama’s approval rating is “holding steady at 50%” despite “getting hammered by the Catholic Church and Republicans over the contraception situation.” O’Reilly asked, “Did the controversy hurt the president at all?” In a word, no. So O’Reilly attacked the contraception mandate as some kind of welfare for women.
O’Reilly said to guest and Fox News analyst Brit Hume, “Cable news ratings for this story are not good. Alright? That means that most Americans are not engaged in the conflict between the federal government, President Obama and the Catholic Church. They’re not. They either don’t care about it, they find it boring, they find it disinteresting. Then you see the Rasmussen tracking poll with the president not taking a hit. Is that the way it’s going to remain – the people just don’t care about this story?”
Hume was obviously in a tough spot, given that the best efforts by his employer to declare themselves the victims of a WAR ON RELIGION! had obviously fizzled. So he cast doubt on the poll by saying it wasn’t on that subject in particular (while avoiding the ratings question) and added that polls “have difficulty measuring… the intensity of feeling.” He sympathetically added that his “sense about this issue” was that while Obama “gratified” and “fired up” his base with it, the intensity was with the Catholic Church. In other words, while there’s no hard evidence to point to any kind of success in the WAR ON RELIGION, Hume said there was the possibility the losers would keep fighting.
Of course nobody considered, at least not aloud, the fact that maybe the reason the public isn't outraged is because they support the Obama administration’s measure – even Catholics support it. Or that it’s a mandate that has been in place for years in 28 states. New Hampshire, for example, passed a similar law in1999 with heavy bi-partisan support. Neither Hume nor O’Reilly brought up those inconvenient facts.
O’Reilly said hopefully, “Let me put it in practical terms. I think what you’re saying is that the president didn’t gain a lot of currency on his side on the left because they would have voted for him anyway. But people who voted for the president last time around – Catholics, the majority of them went for the president – they might be unsettled by this and so he would lose in the long run because he would lose votes while he didn’t gain very much. Is that what it is?”
Of course, Hume had said nothing of the sort. “I think that’s the danger,” Hume said, and then threw in his own criticism of Obama’s compromise as a “shell game.”
O’Reilly moved on to attack the measure as some kind of welfare. “Do you think Americans want a welfare state?” O’Reilly asked. “Free contraceptive to all women – OK, it sounds good but somebody has to pay for it and it’s gonna be me and you and the rest of the folks who work for a living… Are we moving toward we want free stuff from the government, we’re willing to sacrifice some of our freedoms to get it because that’s really what this is really all about, is it not?”
“Well, yes,” agreed Hume.