UPDATE, 5:18PM: “Absolutely, of course you are Bill but I like you anyway,” President Obama told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly tonight when asked if the cable news network host was “unfair” to him. “We just went through an interview where you asked about healthcare not working, IRS wholly corrupt, Benghazi,” Obama said referring to his testy live Super Bowel pregame interview with O’Reilly yesterday (see below). “The list of issues are defined by you guys in a certain way, but this is OK. If you want to be President of the United States then you know that you are going to be subject to criticism..” the President added. “But I want to know if it is unfair,” asked The O’Reilly Factor host to a smiling, laughing and deflecting Obama, “It’s my job to give you a hard time,” O’Reilly added. “Here’s what I would say, regardless of if it is unfair or not, it has made Fox News very successful,” responded Obama. “Here’s what you guys have to figure out, what are you going to do when I’m gone,” the President added. Today’s 10-minute interview shown on The O’Reilly Factor was taped immediately following the live 10-minute one-on-one the duo conducted Sunday. The taped interview also touched on support for veterans, the Keystone pipeline and how Obama thinks Richard Nixon was more liberal than he is.”Mr. President, always a pleasure to talk to you,” O’Reilly concluded the interview with. Afterwards, O’Reilly showed portions of the live interview from Sunday.
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY PM: Things turned tense quickly today between President Obama and Bill O’Reilly in their Super Bowl pregame interview. “OK, Bill, you’ve got a long list of my mistakes,” Obama said to The O’Reilly Factor host near the start of their 10-minute live interview on Fox. That remark — in response to a question from O’Reilly whether it was the biggest mistake of Obama’s presidency when he told Americans no one would lose their healthcare under Obamacare — was one of a number of points on which the two butted heads. The duo sparred almost from the beginning in the interview live from the White House this afternoon. Obama also took on Fox News Channel when O’Reilly asked him about reports the IRS was investigating Tea Party-related groups for political reasons. “These kind of things keep resurfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them,” Obama said. “When you look there have been multiple hearings.” Obama denied any corruption, just some “boneheaded decisions.” Earlier, the Fox News host interrupted Obama with a “you’re not going to answer that?” as the President replied to a question about why he didn’t fire Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius after the botched online launch of Obamacare.
The face-to-face marked the first time O’Reilly has interviewed Obama since Fox last broadcast the Super Bowl in 2011. The two covered several topics today including the Obamacare rollout, the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, and the IRS scandal. Obama wouldn’t offer a prediction for the game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. “I can’t make a prediction, I don’t know, these guys are too evenly matched,” he said. “I think it is going to be 24-21 but I don’t know who is going to be 24 and I don’t know who is going to be 21.” Just before the interview ended, O’Reilly told the President he thought his heart was in the right place. O’Reilly and Obama are set to chat more today for an additional taped portion that will be shown Monday on O’Reilly Factor.
The last time the FNC host and the President sat down together three years ago, O’Reilly grilled Obama about the Affordable Care Act, then before the courts, and how Obama felt knowing people “hate” him. The first time the two spoke on-camera was in 2008, when then-Sen. Obama was running for president.
It’s a now six-year Super Bowl tradition that the lead newsman for the host network sits down with Obama. Last year, with CBS broadcasting, anchor Scott Pelley did the honors, and in 2012 Today’s Matt Lauer landed the interview when NBC had the game. A well-known big sports fan and also well aware of the giant TV audience the big NFL game grants him, Obama noted the Broncos-Seahawks matchup in his weekly online address yesterday. “Have a great weekend,” he said concluding his speech, “and enjoy the Super Bowl.”
Obama and O’Reilly weren’t the only marquee non-sports names Fox lined up during its pregame coverage. Among the celebs on-camera: Kevin Bacon from Fox’s The Following showed up to chat. Hugh Jackman, one of the stars of the upcoming 20th Century Fox pic X-Men: Days Of Future Past, gave a red carpet interview, as did Jamie Foxx and The Monuments Men’s Bill Murray.