Trump narcissism, though, is old news by now.
What’s notable is that O’Reilly, ever a competitive guy, strove to match his interviewee in this department. In posing questions to Trump, O’Reilly sought a running commentary from him on how fair he was being, leading to a bizarre two-track conversation: These two narcissists simultaneously discussed not only the underlying O’Reilly questions, but also the issue of whether they were fair in the first place.
The topic of O’Reilly’s fairness recently acquired a small degree of newsworthiness, as Trump last Monday tweeted unfavorable comments about coverage of his campaign on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Trump even declared a boycott of Fox News airwaves for the “foreseeable future,” which turned out to be about a week. O’Reilly and Trump have been pals for decades and occasionally attend sporting events together. So when Trump broke his faux boycott, the ratings beneficiary was O’Reilly.
As he jousted with his guest, O’Reilly appeared committed to ignoring the turbulence of the past week. “That brings us to me and you,” said O’Reilly to Trump. “You’re on record as saying I’ve been fair, and I believe I have. So, let me ask you a couple of questions and if they’re unfair, tell me they’re unfair.” Close O’Reilly watchers might have heard echoes of his February 2014 interview with President Obama, when the host asked, “Do you think I’m being unfair to you?” Of course, responded the president.
The O’Reilly-Trump face-off produced a series of head-scratchers. Here’s an example: “Am I fair to say that in order for you to win the Republican nomination, that you’re going to have to change your style and be a bit kinder and more mature. Is that a fair question?”
YES, confirmed Trump: “Well, I think it’s fair. I think the word ‘mature’ is not appropriate.”
O’Reilly tried again: “Would I be unfair to say to you, if we were at a Yankee game: ‘Hey, calling Sen. Rubio a “clown” was not presidential’?” asked O’Reilly, in a sequence of words that’s almost impossible to punctuate.
FAIR AGAIN! confirmed Trump.
They ran through this surreal sequence again. O’Reilly brought up Trump’s high unfavorable ratings: “Is it fair to ask you why you think that is?” Apparently Trump decided that it was fair, because he bypassed the question of fairness and went straight to the matter of his favorability ratings.
So it went — a dialogue about the issues inside a dialogue about the fairness of that dialogue. It all ended with mutual congratulation. In a hint of just how badly Fox News wants unfettered access to Trump’s ratings magic, O’Reilly said, “Fair interview? Everything fair, are we good?”
“Very fair, you’re always fair,” responded Trump, contradicting his Twitter feed.
O’Reilly: “We appreciate your coming on and we hope you’ll do many more because you’re a fascinating guy.” It’s good that these two great men have each other.