Fox News host Bill O’Reilly rode frequent interviews of presidential candidate Donald Trump to another industry-leading year in the ratings. This big-time anchor had a built-in advantage in securing these sit-downs, considering that Trump and O’Reilly have been friends for decades. And in that spirit, O’Reilly repeatedly provided a soft nest for Trump in the form of kindly questions and a never-ending quest to help the candidate deflect the most dangerous criticisms that he faced. At one point, O’Reilly even vouched for Trump’s honesty in an interview with rival candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
Though the strategy worked for O’Reilly’s nightly audience, we’ll now get to see what happens when O’Reilly sits with Trump for a broader viewership. Fox News announced today that O’Reilly will do a sit-down interview with Trump to air on the pregame show of the Fox-broadcast Super Bowl on Feb. 5. It will not be a live interview, however, and will be taped earlier that Sunday.
As Fox News notes, “The O’Reilly Factor” averages 3.5 million viewers; a Super Bowl pregame show can net many times that audience, including folks who’ve had little exposure to just how crafty O’Reilly has become at clearing the way for Trump. Though O’Reilly hasn’t interviewed Trump since he won the election, his tone hasn’t much shifted. At one point, O’Reilly went so far as to aver that Hollywood types who decline to perform at the inauguration are doing so because of a climate of fear. Not because of legitimate pangs of conscience.
Though not on the magnitude of Trump, O’Reilly is a towering narcissist — a trait that he has showcased in his interviews. Back in March, he questioned Trump about whether “The O’Reilly Factor” had been fair to him.
And in a Super Bowl 2014 interview with President Obama, O’Reilly asked, “Do you think I’m being unfair to you?”
The answer came back, “Absolutely.”