Super Bowl XLVIII Interview with Obama
February 3, 2014
Will O’Reilly find the Character or paint a Caricature? Obama says Fox makes a ‘caricature’ of him – is there no truth in parody?
In the late eighties I had the good fortune of having for my friend, a Bavarian born caricature artist who was formerly the head of the art department for a major U.S. newspaper in Texas. He was going through a Bohemian lifestyle period in his life and could be found daily in the French Quarter of New Orleans setting up to do caricatures of visitors and natives alike.
Black and white pictures were the cheapest, but people were more apt to ask for the full color renderings which amplified their particular features and qualities. My friend was a master of color and shade and the pictures almost had a portrait effect laid hard into the caricature that people seemed to love.
I will not forget the answer he gave me, when one day, I asked him how he decided what features he would accent about a person to produce the uniqueness of each drawing.
He said there were two ways to decide what features to amplify. The first was, to decide for himself based on what he saw and what he heard as he engaged his subjects in conversations about where they were from, their jobs and careers, and other personal information. Very few people trusted him to decide what features he would choose to clinch the drawing. He said that deciding for them, was only used as a last resort, but why?
More often than not when he decided, they were not pleased with the final result. In fact, in some cases they would be offended. Although he was brutally honest in his artistic product, it wasn’t always exactly how his customers perceived themselves. If they were snobbish he caught it, if they were sloppy he caught that, but they wouldn’t accept that kind of honesty about themselves.
He solved the problem of the dissatisfied customer by asking them what they wanted to see exaggerated and blown out of proportion. The result was almost comical and at times - totally embarrassing.
Men with slight builds were depicted with barreling chests and powerful muscles. Women who were not so good looking were cast as luscious beauties. That is the point.
If we look at Mr. Obama through his own eyes to decide how well he is doing or what image he thinks he is impressing upon us, he will doubtless look just fine to most and great to some.
Is that what news organizations and agencies are supposed to do. Should they resort to a party line, a controlled access report or a pile of pre-pandered propaganda to inform us of what is going on with the President? If that is what we want; there are plenty of networks offering just that and little else.
Fox news has some loud mouths self-absorbed commentators and a few outright cornballs in their roster, but as far as the slogan ‘fair and balanced,’ can meet with any reasonable expectation, they are the only kid on the block and by no means the new kid on the block.
They can motivate without trying to mesmerize, they can expostulate without expletives and extraneous hyperbole. We are not stupid. We know O’Reilly is a hot headed Irishmen who sometimes ought to tone it down, but we are sure he is showing us his real character and not his feigned caricature.
We can disagree with him and others at Fox, but we know that they are trying to offer us an un-impeded view of events as they come down in real time. They don’t always get it, but they never ask those who they are reporting on - how they want to be depicted.
This is what makes our president insecure with Fox. What we must all remember is that, this is the president’s problem, not Fox’s problem, and by no means, is it our problem.
In the first Super Bowl interview O’Reilly kept pounding the president with the now classic, “Why do so many Americans hate you.” Mr. Obama squirmed away from directly answering that question and re-directed O’Reilly’s questioning with labored if not nervous subtlety.
With five years of his administration behind him, that question has already been answered. Now, we can only hope that Bill might ask for an explanation about why it has gone sour and what the president intends to do about it.
If the top dog at Fox doesn’t get all mushy in the presence of the Chief, perhaps this time he will paint the caricature based on what he actually sees and not what Mr. Obama wants him to see.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8: 32)