There will be no shortage of predictably batshit conservative reactions to President Obama’s huge immigration speech last night, but most of those will be predictable, and won’t have much of an effect. One remarkable exception was Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, who took the moments after the speech to launch several intensely personal attacks on the President. One such attack was too much even for Bill O’Reilly.
At first, though, O’Reilly was happy to join every other conservative everywhere in attacking President Obama for quoting scripture (Exodus 23-9) in his speech. What’s surprising, and significant, is how Henry joined in:
O’Reilly: “He is one of the most secular presidents, perhaps the most secular president we have ever had, yet, he invokes scripture in the speech. How did you hear that?”
Henry: “I heard that as political salesmanship, frankly. He can’t lead with the idea of amnesty. You look at the polls, that’s a disaster. How are you going to win over people across the aisle? You talk about scripture, and talk about mom and apple pie and the American flag and, you know, immigrants are entrepreneurs, and they are our neighbors, and this worship with us in the next pew at church.”
Now, suggesting that a president is insincere in his faith is “normal” for a wingnut commentator, but not for a White House reporter. This, the more personal of the two attacks, continues a pattern of bad blood between Ed Henry and the White House. That bad blood reached a boil late last year when Henry suggested that the White House didn’t care about the families of deceased military veterans, and resulted in a severe deterioration of his relationship with the White House. Henry dialed it back somewhat after that, but this attack was along similarly personal lines.
O’Reilly didn’t object to Henry’s characterization of President Obama’s scriptural references, but even he couldn’t cosign what Henry said next, in response to the President’s border security plans:
Henry: “One major point here is, when he says it only makes sense on border security to get border patrol agents to focus more, not going after lesser criminals, but go after terrorists and gang members. Why did it take executive action for the Department of homeland security to figure it out? Shouldn’t from day one of this administration, and the administration before, shouldn’t they have been focused on trying to catch terrorists and the like?“
O’Reilly: “That was one of those points I just ignored, because the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and everybody else, is trying to prevent terrorism. We all know that.”
Henry’s interpretation was too deranged even for O’Reilly because, of course, the President wasn’t talking about launching some new mission to catch terrorists and criminals, but rather cutting away enforcement priorities that detract from that already ongoing effort.
Ed Henry is a naturally talented reporter, but he seems to have let the bad blood between him and this White House completely overrun his judgment, and I don’t think it has much to do with the politics of Fox News, or its audience. When Henry moved to Fox News, he was shunned immediately, and that sense of isolation has crept up on him ever since.