It was the perfect pre-game show: Sunday evening before the Super Bowl, Fox News aired an interview between arch-conservative Bill O'Reilly and President Obama. The conversation was the pair's first televised discussion since the last time Fox aired the Super Bowl in 2011 and Obama's sixth consecutive Super Bowl interview. It was just as uncomfortable as you would expect.
From the very beginning the two sparred over healthcare, the IRS scandal, and, of course, Benghazi. “OK, Bill, you’ve got a long list of my mistakes,” the president said early on in the interview. And in the ten minutes available, O'Reilly seemed to try to hit on every one. O'Reilly had just asked whether saying no one would lose access to their doctor under the new healthcare law was Obama's biggest mistake. "I don't think I or anybody anticipated the degree of the problems with the website," Obama continued. "The good news is right away we decided how to fix it."
He also took the opportunity to blast Fox News.
"Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was terror attack because your campaign did not want that out," said O'Reilly.
"And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that," Obama responded. "It's inaccurate."
Later Obama called out Fox News by telling O'Reilly, "These kinds of things keep on surfacing because you and your TV station will promote them."
But the interview wasn't completely unrelated to the evening's festivities. Mid-healthcare discussion, Obama managed to prime the audience for the big game. Asked why he didn't fire Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius, the president wryly responded,
I try to focus not on the fumbles but on the next play... Our main focus is how we make sure this thing works.
Smart as he is with sports metaphors, though, even the president can't decide how tonight's game will go. He predicted toward the end of the interview that the score would be 21-24. "But," he qualified, "I don’t know who is going to be 24 and I don’t know who is going to be 21.”
An extended version of the interview will air during The O'Reilly Factor Monday night.