The New York Times posted on its website Wednesday political writer Matt Bai's long profile of Barack Obama, which will be featured in the next edition of the Times Sunday Magazine.
Near the end of the 8,800-word piece, in which Bai talked to Obama on his campaign plane, the Democrat dropped a backhanded tribute to Fox News, which by his lights is not only frustrating him in the polls, but is part of a wider apparatus "designed to perpetuate" the country's "cultural schism." Obama even identified New York Times reading as a reliable signifier of effete liberalsm.
[Obama] reminded me that back in March, for instance, he accepted a spontaneous invitation from a voter in Altoona, Pa., to bowl a few frames, and it turned out Obama was basically a god-awful bowler. Some commentators gleefully used this deficiency to portray him as out of touch with the common man, in a John Kerry-windsurfing sort of way. (Joe Scarborough, on MSNBC, used the word "prissy.") To Obama, this brought home the bleak reality that, as a Democratic nominee, he was going to be typecast, fairly or not.
"I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls," Obama told me. "If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn't vote for me, right? Because the way I'm portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?
"I guess the point I'm making," he went on, "is that there is an entire industry now, an entire apparatus, designed to perpetuate this cultural schism, and it's powerful. People want to know that you're fighting for them, that you get them. And I actually think I do. But you know, if people are just seeing me in sound bites, they're not going to discover that. That's why I say that some of that may have to happen after the election, when they get to know you."
Obama has been interviewed on the Fox News Channel at least twice, sitting for a relatively genial interview with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace in April 2008 and a more aggressive one with Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly Factor" in September.