Bill O’Reilly sat down in the White House for a live interview with President Obama during the Super Bowl pregame show, and he was able to bat down the notion that he is a lefty socialist out to redistribute income, “I didn’t raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years. I lowered taxes. I lowered taxes for the last two years.”
Here is the video from Media Matters:
Bill O’Reilly used a Wall Street Journal editorial to try to make the case that Obama is a left wing socialist out to redistribute income, but the President easily knocked down this claim by saying, “Well the Wall Street Journal would probably paint you as a left wing guy. I mean if you are talking about the Wall Street Journal editorial page, you know that is like quoting the New York Times editorial page.”
O’Reilly followed up by asking Obama if he denied that he was a man who wants to redistribute wealth. Obama answered, “Oh absolutely, absolutely, Bill, I didn’t raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years. I lowered taxes. I lowered taxes for the last two years” O’Reilly followed up with the claim that the entitlements Obama championed would redistribute wealth. Obama answered by framing health care reform in moderate common sense terms, “What is absolutely true is that I think in this country there’s no reason why if you get sick, you should go bankrupt. Now the notion that that’s a radical principle I don’t think the majority of people would agree with you on.”
O’Reilly asked why a majority of people in polls don’t support Obama care, and the President corrected him by accurately saying that the polls are evenly split, which O’Reilly then conceded as the polls being close. This interview became another exercise in Barack Obama using Fox News to appeal to moderate America. O’Reilly threw Obama a ton of softballs both in the beginning and the last segment of the interview. In the middle portion O’Reilly tried to ask tough right wing questions about Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, “Obamacare” and Obama’s perceived move to the center, but Obama handled them all and got his message out with ease.
Instead of challenging the President, these supposed hard questions were a gift to him. They allowed him to smile, address his critics on the right, and most importantly appeal to the 70% of the country that isn’t Republican. Obama was able to reinforce his image a consensus seeking moderate. It was also important that he didn’t take Bill O’Reilly’s bait on what happens if the Supreme Court throws out healthcare reform.
These Fox News interviews are a Godsend to Obama politically. They are the gift that keeps on giving. Every time Obama appears for an interview with a Fox News personality, he helps himself politically. Obama is too smart to play along with the Fox News line of questioning, and he always manages to turn the discussion towards his way of framing things. This president owns Fox News, and even as the network keeps trying to trap him with biased questions, he will continue to dominate them.