Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Barack Obama produced no discernible fireworks on Super Bowl Sunday, though some anticipated the matchup with the same fervor other folks reserved for the Packers vs. the Steelers.
Airing live from the White House at 4:45 p.m./3:45c, the approximately 15-minute chat played for the most part like just another element in Fox’s sprawling pre-Super Bowl programming –- known officially as “The Pizza Hut Pregame Show.”
The interview –- which touched on such non-football subjects as the turmoil in Egypt, the campaign by House and Senate republicans to repeal Obamacare and the President’s personal feelings about his job after two years in office –- felt no more out of place than some of the other bits featured during the Pizza Hut show, including that recital of the Declaration of Independence by football greats and servicemen and women, and the short film called “The Journey” that was narrated by Michael Douglas. (What was that thing, anyway?)
Overall, O’Reilly’s questioning of the President was pretty mild, but at times, O’Reilly would make the same kinds of dismissive, editorializing statements he makes on his show, “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel, when he’s ending a segment with a guest with whom he disagrees. And for the most part, the President, to his credit, laughed them off.
Here’s how some of the exchanges went on Sunday:
O’Reilly asked if President Obama knew when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would leave office (assuming he can be persuaded to leave office before his term ends, as he has announced he’ll do).
The President replied: “Only he knows what he’s gonna do, but here’s what we know: Egypt is not gonna go back to what it was. The Egyptian people want freedom.”
Then O’Reilly said: “So you don’t know when he’s gonna leave. … [Mubarak] knows a lot of bad things about us, so I’m just worried that he might go off the reservation.”
O’Reilly asked the President if he was concerned that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood would somehow seize power as a result of the turmoil in that country.
The President replied: “I have confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process that we’ll have a government in Egypt that we can work with together as a partner.”
Then O’Reilly said: “Those are tough boys, the Muslim Brotherhood -– I wouldn’t want them anywhere near that government!”
O’Reilly asked the President if he is “prepared for [last year’s Healthcare Act] to go down?
The President replied: “I don’t want to spend the next two years re-fighting the battles of the last two years.”
Interpreting a Wall Street Journal editorial that described the President as an unrepentant liberal intent on redistributing the nation’s wealth, O’Reilly asked the President to react to this statement: “A lot of Americans feel that you’re a big government liberal who wants to intrude on their personal freedom.”
The President laughed. “I think that a lot of folks who watch you, Bill, believe that,” he said.