Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly got together for what became at times a rather contentious pre-Super Bowl interview Sunday.
The president traded barbs with O’Reilly over Obama’s troubled health care law rollout, the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya and revelations that the IRS targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
“I try to focus not on the fumbles but on the next play,” Obama said.
Obama would not say why he didn’t fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after the failed launch of the Obamacare website. He also declined to say that the biggest mistake of his presidency was telling Americans if they liked their health care they could keep it and argued the website is now working the way it’s supposed to.
“We’ve got 3 million people signed up so far. We’re about a month behind where we anticipated we wanted to be,” Obama said.
The most contentious portion of the interview came during O’Reilly’s questions about Benghazi, as he and Obama spoke over each other and often sounded annoyed at the other.
“I’m trying to explain it to you, if you want to listen,” the president told O’Reilly at one point.
Initially saying that the Benghazi attacks were “not some systematic well-organized process,” Obama defended himself as O’Reilly posed questions about why administration officials initially described the attacks at the compound in Libya as a spontaneous mob protest of an anti-Islamic, American-made video.
“Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign didn’t want that out,” O’Reilly said. “That’s what they believe.”
“And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that,” Obama countered, then adding that such a claim is “inaccurate” and “the notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when a week later we all said in fact there was a terrorist attack taking place.”
“That wouldn’t be a very good cover-up,” Obama said.
As for the IRS scandal, Obama insisted there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” contributing to the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.
“These kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part because you and your TV station will promote them,” Obama said, taking aim at Fox News.
Another portion of the interview will air on The O’Reilly Factor Monday night, Mediaite noted.