Fox News host Bill O’Reilly will conduct a live interview with President Obama at the White House at 4:30 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2), right in the midst of pregame festivities, the network announced today. A bonus taped portion of the sit-down session will air on the Feb. 3 edition of “The O’Reilly Factor.” A release from Fox News indicates that the interview will “cover an array of topics.”
In a similar setting prior to the 2011 Super Bowl, O’Reilly indeed covered a number of topics, including turmoil in the Middle East, whether Obama was dead-set on redistributing America’s wealth and football. It was a perfectly fine session in which O’Reilly showed his much-self-touted ability to be a straight shooter, though he wasn’t quite as smooth and comfy as he always appears on his home set.
Anyhow, O’Reilly’s currency in his audience stems from the idea that he is not ideological, that he has utter political independence and doesn’t align with many of his colleagues at Fox News, including arch-conservative prime-time host Sean Hannity. Though we won’t evaluate the integrity of that notion right now, we will note that O’Reilly complies with the Fox News-wide contempt for the president’s signature issue, the Affordable Care Act. Last November, for instance, O’Reilly made this claim about health-care reform:
The affordable healthcare law will change your life and my life. Unless you are a millionaire, who can afford to pay all health bills out of pocket, you are going to get hosed.
For most Americans, Obamacare will make life far more complicated and drive up healthcare premiums. That’s the truth. There is no getting around it. More money out of your pocket, fewer doctors available and businesses cutting back on benefits and hiring — those are the consequences of Obamacare. And if anyone, anyone tells you differently, they are not telling you the truth.
So it’s likely that O’Reilly will hammer away at the president on health care again on Super Bowl Sunday. And one way that O’Reilly may do that could well involve dialing back to his 2011 interview. Have a look at the following exchange from that session. It started when the president cited the views of “a lot of people” who were alienated by Washington and wanted progress on key issues. O’Reilly disputed Obama on the point:
O’REILLY: Other people see it as a huge government intrusion and you guys just want to take over basically decision-making for Americans. It’s an ideological argument. Let me move ahead….
PRESIDENT OBAMA: But Bill, I just want to be clear about this. Because if you look at what we’ve done, what we said was ‘If you’ve got health care that you like, you keep it.’
O’REILLY: I know all that. I listen to it every day.
OBAMA: I know, and I listen to you. And what I hear you saying, Bill, for example, is the notion that us saying to people that don’t have health insurance, “Don’t make me pay for your health insurance, don’t make me pay for it when you go to the emergency room. If you get sick, you have a responsibility to make sure that you’ve got coverage.” There’s nothing socialist about that.
Now: That exchange wasn’t particularly newsworthy at the time. As O’Reilly suggested, he’d heard many times the president’s rhetoric about people being able to keep their plans. Things have changed in the past three years, however. Last fall, millions of Americans learned of some holes in the president’s pledge, as insurance companies began canceling their plans.
President Obama in November apologized to those who are “finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.” Since then, the issue has dissipated, though PolitiFact recently celebrated the claim as “lie of the year.” It could be time for O’Reilly to revive it. Mr. President, did you lie to me three years ago?