Sen. Obama's Attack FOX Strategy: A Key to Victory?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 16, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Has Senator Obama made a deliberate and strategic decision to attack FOX News Channel? Senator Obama said this about Fox News Channel last night during the debate.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Now , with respect to a couple of things Senator McCain said, the notion that I voted for a tax increase for people making $42,000 a year has been disputed by everybody who's looked at this claim that Senator McCain keeps on making.

Even FOX News disputes it. And that doesn't happen very often when it comes to accusations about me.


VAN SUSTEREN: That's not all. In an upcoming article in "The New York Times" magazine, Senator Obama says, "I'm convinced that if there were no FOX News I might be two or three points higher in the polls. 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'm the latte- slipping, "New York Times' reading, Volvo driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants something like that?"

It doesn't end there. According to the magazine "The Nation" an aide to Senator Obama actually says this is a part of a coordinated strategy by the Democratic nominee to take on FOX News.

Why is Senator Obama doing this? Joining us live is Bill Sammon, Fox News Deputy Managing Editor. And, Bill, we even got a shout-out tonight at the roast.

BILL SAMMON, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR: When it happens the third time in three days it's a trend and it's an intentional strategy. This isn't just accidental. This has made a calculated decision that if I beat up on FOX News that will excite the fringe left wing of the Democratic Party.

VAN SUSTEREN: He's already got that.

Watch Greta's interview

SAMMON: That's the thing. The other side of the strategy, you risk being seen as thin-skinned if--you know, if everybody in the media is in the tank for you and one media outlet is actually being balanced about you and asking tough questions but giving both sides of the story, and that bothers you to the point where you have to call that media outlet out, you look a little thin-skinned.

He's probably right about the two or three points. And it's not because FOX is biased. It's because FOX is actually doing its journalistic duty and being fair and balanced about it.

Hillary Clinton herself said that we were the fairest network. This is not exactly a conservative right wing or Hillary Clinton.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of interesting though that it's come in the last couple of days. And I can't figure it out. I just don't know what he gains from it.

SAMMON: Well, you read a quote, he talks about "FOX portrays me as a freak, a latte-sipping, "New York times" reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun- owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal."

It wasn't FOX News that sort of invented this persona. It was "The National Journal," the nonpartisan "National Journal" magazine ranked him as the most liberal member of the Senate.

Now, "The National Journal" produced such journalists as Linda Douglass, who went on to become Obama's press secretary. So that is hardly a bastion of right wing extremism. They ranked him as the most liberal senator. It's a respected magazine.

You talk about this joke about what he drinks and the Volvo. There was a quote in "The New York Times" about Obama, and they're quoting Obama's assistant. He says Obama likes "Chocolate roasted peanut protein and bottles of hard to find organic brew black forest berry hunt honest tea."

You can't make that stuff up. FOX News didn't come up with that. "The New York Times" came up with that.

And so I mean it's clearly the race is tightening a little bit. I think Obama still has a comfortable lead. But he must be a little nervous if he feels compelled to beat up on FOX News.

VAN SUSTEREN: I actually thought he was sort of funny in the "New York Times" magazine. Maybe I'm the only one--sort of poking us a little bit. I actually thought he was sort of funny.

But it did strike me as that I couldn't--after the election, maybe, but not now. Because we have a lot of independent, undecided voters that need--

SAMMON: Of course, we do.

The other thing is he's the one that went to a bunch of big shots in San Francisco behind closed doors and said, "You know, those rural people, small-town people in Pennsylvania cling to their guns, cling to god, and they're bitter." FOX didn't invent that.

So he's laying a rap on us that he created himself, and I think it's just politically expedient.

VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe we'll get a fourth shoutout tomorrow. There's always tomorrow. We look forward to tomorrow to see if he's giving us free PR. You can't buy this stuff.

Anyway, Bill, thank you.

SAMMON: Thanks, Greta.

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