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Why both President Obama and Bill O'Reilly won out in Fox's pre-Super Bowl interview (with video!)



obamaoreilly-300x150.jpgFox may have hyped it as the Super Bowl of politics, but Sunday's interview of President Obama by Bill O'Reilly before the Super Bowl felt a little more like a predictable preseason scrimmage.

Over the course of several minutes, the Fox News Channel star hit President Obama with a raft of questions which seemed taken from the Conservative talking points of the moment -- Isn't health care reform distribution of wealth? Haven't you moved to the center in recent weeks? Should we fear the Muslim Brotherhood? -- while the president responded mostly with how own talking points leftover from the State of the Union and previous speeches.

The best moment for me came when the President talked about the biggest challenge of the job: "The thing you understand intellectually but you don’t understand in your gut is – every decision that comes to my desk, is something that nobody else has been able to solve. The easy stuff gets solved somewhere by somebody else. By the time it gets to me, you don’t have easy answers.”

President Obama said he hopes for an orderly transition in Egypt and has told Mubarak the time for that transition is now. He also pushed back against the notion he wanted to "redistribute wealth," noting he'd lowered taxes over two years and doesn't believe keeping health emergencies from bankrupting people equals socialism. He also shrugged off a criticism from the notoriously right-wing editorial board of the Wall Street Journal noting they "would probably call you a left wing guy."

O'Reilly handled the interview as he handles many such interactions on his Fox News show, interrupting the president several times to interject his own opinions. At one moment though, when he alluded to Egyptian president Mubarak's knowledge of America's dirty secrets through his willingness to take in and torture terrorism suspects through rendition, he never asked the $64,000 question.

A query like: Mr. President what has Mubarak done for us in furthering the war on terror? Does he have damaging secrets to reveal and is that why we seemed to move slowly to recognize the revolt?

Instead, O'Reilly asked the president about why his friends say he's more guarded now, without acknowledging that he works for a channel employing pundits who have called him a socialist, a racist and someone who might not even be an American citizen.

After noting he asked the question of George W. Bush, O'Reilly asked "does it disturb you that so many people hate you?"

"The people who dislike you don't know you," Obama said, rolling out an answer he's given in the past, just before O'Reilly interrupted to note "They hate you."

"What they hate is whatever funhouse mirror image of you that's out there," he said, without noting who might have helped create such a caricature. "And they don't know you. You can't take it personally."

In the end, O'Reilly got to look like a powerhouse journalist and President Obama got to answer some of the more hardcore conservative criticisms of his tenure with a relaxed, informed air. So this might have been a game both sides managed to win.

Here's Mediaite's clip of the exchange:

[Last modified: Sunday, February 6, 2011 7:37pm]


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