Obama Super Bowl Interview: O'Reilly and President Spar Live on Benghazi, Health Care (Video)
The occasionally tense sit-down hits on the Fox News personality's public grievances with the Democratic commander in chief: "These kinds of things keep on surfacing because you and your TV station will promote them," says Obama.
President Obama sat down for his annual pre-Super Bowl live chat on Sunday, meeting with Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly for their third-ever sit-down. The conservative-leaning O'Reilly kicked off the 15-minute interview by asking the president about the recent rollout of the Affordable Care Act, also hitting on the 2012 Benghazi attack.
"I think we all anticipated that there would be glitches," Obama said in response to well-publicized issues with the website. "I don't think I or anybody anticipated the degree of the problems with the website. The good news is right away we decided how to fix it."
When asked if he felt the promise that the new health care system would allow everyone to keep their doctor was the biggest mistake of his presidency, Obama seemed to imply that was not the case. "Bill you've got a long list of my mistakes," said Obama, with a laugh. "This is one that I regret, and I've said I regret it."
O'Reilly pushed him on the matter, asking why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is still in her job given the issues. "I try to focus not on the fumbles but on the next play," said Obama, invoking some game-day metaphor. "Our main focus is how we make sure this thing works."
On the matter of the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya, Obama was firm on the time line in which he called the assault an act of terrorism. "He told me there was an attack on our compound," said Obama. "In the heat of the moment, what people are focused on is what's happening on the ground. … If someone is attacking our compound, that is an act of terror."
"Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign did not want that out," said O'Reilly.
"And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that," Obama responded. "It's inaccurate."
Later Obama called out Fox News by telling O'Reilly, "These kinds of things keep on surfacing because you and your TV station will promote them."
But the interview did end on a soft note. Before asking the president for his prediction on who would win the game, O'Reilly offered this: "I know you think we haven't been fair, but I think your heart is in the right place."
The president declined to make any predictions on the game. The full interview between Obama and O'Reilly will air at 8 p.m. on Fox News Channel on Monday night's The O'Reilly Factor.
The Fox News anchor also interviewed the president in February 2011 and during Obama's campaign in September 2008.
O'Reilly previewed the interview on Jan. 30 on fellow Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's show. The host noted that he felt his only constraint when conducting the chat with the president would be time.
"I don't know exactly [how much time the interview will be], but I have to deal with Fox Sports, I got to deal with the White House and I got to deal with a lot of things I can't control," O'Reilly told Kelly. "This program that I do, The Factor, I can control, you know, time and everything like that. [For this] I can't."
In 2013, the president spoke with CBS News' Scott Pelley prior to the game. During the 2012 campaign year Super Bowl, NBC News' Matt Lauer interviewed Obama.