Bill O’Reilly’s Support for Tesla Motors, Will SpaceX See a Benefit?

In a media driven culture, major shifts in national policy can sometimes be traced to the point at which key opinion makers change their minds on a given subject.  For example, it is often said that Walter Cronkite’s coverage of the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War was the deciding factor in shaping how the American public, and perhaps even President Johnson perceived that conflict.

Monday evening, even as he was criticizing Brian William’s reporting on a new warning about climate change, the Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, host of the the O’Reilly Factor, went to give a ringing endorsement of Tesla Motors and the Model S as examples of an environmentally beneficial product all Americans should support.  In further proof of the media’s influence, the sea-change in the influential commentator’s opinion of Tesla took place as a result of watching the 60 Minutes profile of Elon Musk the previous evening.

Given the Fox network’s general hostility towards Tesla, which was on display again Tuesday morning as the Fox and Friends hosts uttered exaggerated clucks and groans over a story about the new shield Tesla is installing to reduce the chances of road debris penetration into the battery compartment, a positive portrayal of Tesla by a major personality such as O’Reilly gives the audience a perspective it is not likely to otherwise receive.

It was reinforced again in a much longer section on the Tuesday evening edition of the O’Reilly Factor when the host lambasted a visibly surly Eric Bolling, one of Fox’s own, over his continued antipathy to the car, and the company, and the potential implications for the U.S.

While perhaps easy to dismiss as just another night of opinions on a cable news show, it may be much more than that.  As the top rated cable news show on the network which hosts the top 14 such shows, O’Reilly’s change of heart on Tesla will be influential on overall coverage, and is not likely to be missed by the next group of Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination for the 2016 Presidential election.  Given the obvious common denominator, it may also prove to be an important milestone in how the network portrays both Elon Musk and SpaceX as well as a sort of unblinking acceptance of the established space industry as it did in the “Surrendering America” piece which aired over the previous weekend.

The day Fox begins asking why the U.S. is paying ULA $420 million per launch for what SpaceX can do for $100 million, or why the taxpayer is spending upwards of $20 billion to develop a heavy lift booster when a private company is doing it for free, could very well mark the day the space program changes for good.

Final note:

What is good for Tesla is generally good for SpaceX, and one of the more important common links is the absolute need for high capacity energy storage for both.  Tesla is quickly becoming the world’s driving source on this technology.


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