Before last night’s Super Bowl, President Obama sat down with his chief media nemesis, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, for a much-anticipated showdown that really was just another opportunity for O’Reilly to grill the president about the issues that have obsessed the right wing and Fox over the past year: Benghazi, the IRS “scandal” over right-wing nonprofits and the Obamacare website.
Though the president has answered questions about all three issues ad nauseam and, as Obama pointed out, each issue has been the subject of numerous Congressional hearings, he was forced to once again respond to questions thrown at him by O’Reilly, who frequently interrupted the president and tried to talk over him.
It was Obama’s sixth pre-Super Bowl interview and the second by O’Reilly, who interviewed him before the 2011 game.
O’Reilly went after the president on why he still had not fired Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, for botching the rollout of the healthcare.gov website.
The president said he wasn’t interested in focusing on the past and that it wouldn’t make sense, midstream, to fire Sebelius as they were concentrating on making sure the site now works.
O’Reilly asked him whether he thought his claim to the American people that “If you like your plan you can keep your plan” was his “biggest mistake.”
The president said the implementation of the Affordable Care Act was an ongoing process, and he was committed to getting it to work rather than dwelling on past mistakes.
“I try to focus not on the fumbles but on the next play,” said the country’s most powerful sports fan, aptly using a football analogy.
On the terrorist attack against the American diplomatic post in Benghazi, where an American ambassador was killed, O’Reilly pushed Obama especially hard.
“Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign didn’t want that out,” O’Reilly said. “That’s what they believe.”
“And they believe it because folks like you tell them that,” Obama said.
Political observers believe this is the GOP’s way of indirectly going after Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State during the Benghazi affair. That’s why there was so much attention paid to this tweet by Clinton after the interview aired: “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked!”
When O’Reilly asked whether there was any corruption afoot in the IRS for investigating applications from right-wing nonprofits, the president said there wasn’t even the hint of corruption.
“These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them,” he said.