Sunday is a day for big games, big challenges between worthy adversaries. The ball goes back and forth, and the best team ultimately takes the day. With all the hype, there’s no missing the pigskin tossed back and forth on the field today…but the greatest match of the day might have come before the Superbowl, on the green gridiron/gridlock of the O’Reilly Factor. And in this game, it was President Obama vs. Papa Bear O’Reilly.
There’s a long-running tradition in television of presidents doing an interview on the network that hosts the Superbowl, just before the game; it’s good for the president, and great for the network’s ratings. Since FOX held the big event this year, it was Murdoch’s turn to turn to chat with the Commander-in-Chief.
Normally, the pre-game interview is a jovial affair, where the two laugh and chat about football to establish their “regular guy credentials.” And Obama certainly came prepared in that regard. But the fact that Rupert Murdoch chose O’Reilly as his interview avatar set the tone before it even began. Obama came ready for that, too. He opened the interview with this:
“Okay, Bill — you’ve got a long list of my mistakes.”
And indeed, Bill did, spending the rest of the interview hammering the President on every Faux News talking point and manufactured crisis from the last year. But, facing the Koch Bros. most withering offense, Obama didn’t cede a yard. The rest of the clip is definitely worth watching, but this exchange pretty much says it all.
O’Reilly: “Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world [Benghazi] was a terror attack because your campaign didn’t want that out. That’s what they believe.”
President Obama: “And they believe it because folks like you tell them that. These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”
And, there’s the endzone dance.