Numerous times Mr. Wallace sought to interrupt Mrs. Clinton’s answers, but she plowed ahead, refusing to let him play the overbearing prosecutor. Certainly, it was a useful exercise for the Clinton campaign: although it’s questionable whether she won any converts among the Fox audience, her performance will have been reassuring for Democrats who wonder how she’d hold up in the spotlight of a fall campaign.
But the bigger winners were Fox News and Mr. Wallace.
Hillary’s star-power and the prospect of a Bill-like blow-up surely inflated the audience size and probably reeled in a large number of Democrats who ordinarily boycott Fox News programs. And even though the interview failed to produce fireworks, the tension still made for a gripping segment—surely, even conservatives would rather see Mrs. Clinton being interviewed on Fox than, say, Duncan Hunter. Indeed, the interview could be seen as a potential preview of Fox News programming for the years 2009 to 2013 (or maybe 2017). With a Clinton back in the White House, Fox would have no shortage of material to stoke the passions of its audience, giving its shows a new sense of urgency.
There’s a lesson that liberals have learned this decade and that conservatives learned in the 1990s: It’s far easier to rally the masses in opposition to someone than to carry water for a leader or a party. For Fox—and any right-leaning media outlet—there could be nothing better than a Democrat in the White House, particularly if that Democrat is as personally and philosophically objectionable to the conservative base as Hillary Clinton is.
The Fox News Channel, remember, was launched in 1996, four years after Bill Clinton’s election set in motion the rapid proliferation of conservative talk radio, rallying the grass roots against the “radical” agenda of the Clintons and their cronies—and the “liberal media” that abetted them. Fox became the Fair and Balanced alternative to the Clinton-loving left, and the rest is history.
When, at the end of his interview, Mr. Wallace told Mrs. Clinton to “please send my best to the President,” he was no doubt being sincere. Because where would Fox News—and Chris Wallace—be without the Clintons?
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