Presidential nominee debuts on show

After many invitations, Bill O’Reilly is finally getting the chance to interview Barack Obama. The Democratic presidential nominee is set to appear on “The O’Reilly Factor” for the first time on Thursday at 8 p.m., just before John McCain formally accepts the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention.

The interview will tape Thursday afternoon and will air over multiple episodes, Fox News said.

The move is further evidence of the easing of the rift between Obama and Fox News, a network that had to make do without Obama or any of his challengers for months, due to a party-wide boycott of the conservative-leaning cabler.

The O’Reilly interview comes as the result of an even more startling head-to-head three months ago at Gotham’s Waldorf-Astoria, when Obama met privately with Fox Television chairman and former GOP campaign strategist advisor Roger Ailes to work out “a tentative truce,” according to a report by Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff. The meeting was brokered by Rupert Murdoch himself, reportedly tired of having his news net rebuffed by Obama.

O’Reilly’s multi-part interview would seem to be an impressive olive branch between the campaign and the network: Fox News had a boffo August in the ratings, landing at #3 in primetime (1,959,000 total viewers, up 35% month-to-month) for all of cable in total viewers, and at #15 for the same time period in the demo (475,000 viewers, up 31% month-to-month). The net topped both its competitors, even with increased interest in CNN and MSNBC leading into the Democratic National Convention.

With rising interest, especially on Fox, in McCain and his VP pick Sarah Palin, the net has the strongest possible lead-in to McCain’s acceptance speech. For Obama, the interview offers a chance to steal a little thunder from his opponent.

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