FNC’s Obama Special: “In His Own Words”

Will FNC’s special on President Obama this weekend escalate the already contentious relationship between the White House and FNC?

Michael Clemente, senior V.P. of news for FNC in New York, hints that like everything “lightening rod” about the network, some will like it, some won’t.

Watchers, he said, must decide for themselves.

“What’s unique about the special,” he said in a phone interview with FishbowlDC Thursday, is that the program is Obama’s words. There are clips of the President’s first year, his words and the “result” of those words. But no, no interview with Obama. FNC’s Bret Baier will anchor the one-hour program on Saturday and Sunday nights at 9p.m.

Clemente insists FNC’s version of Obama ‘a year later’ is different than the rest. “There’s been a whole bunch of this for the past week or two, but what we’ve done is not have any narration,” Clemente said. “I’ve seen a bunch of these packages. They’ve been all over the place because it’s a natural thing to do.”

The FNC news executive assured that the special would be — what else? — fair and balanced.

“What we’re trying to do is what we do as journalists,” he said. “Let’s have what we’ve seen and reported. It’s very innovative. People sometimes tire of being told what they’re seeing. All we need to do is string together the sound of what was said and what was done and let people just see it for what it is.”

Clemente isn’t worried about the program’s success. “I’m not comfortable talking about numbers, but we have increasing numbers of people watching what we do,” he said. “I hope they come. I think we have something innovative and different, especially different compared to everyone else’s predicable here’s what happened in the first year.”

Obama has essentially patched up his shaky relationship with FNC, granting interviews to correspondents such as Major Garrett, who covers the White House.

But earlier this week, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer threatened to topple those flimsy relations in an interview with NYT’s Jeff Zeleny that the network is “not a traditional news organization,” and that he doesn’t feel the need to treat FNC like an ABC or an NBC. FNC shot back, “Obviously new to his position, Dan seems to be intent upon repeating the mistakes of his predecessor… and we all remember how well that turned out.” (See that story on TVNewser here.)

Clemente said viewers will be surprised. “It’s not what people expect from Fox,” he said. “I think people expect here’s what went wrong here, here’s what went wrong there. This is the President in his own words. Let’s just sit back for a moment and go through it.”

The below video on YouTube may not be the final version. (But watch it anyway, it’s close enough to the final cut.)