In a follow-up to a live interview between President Barack Obama and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday before the Super Bowl, Mr. Obama and O’Reilly spoke about the deficit, Afghanistan and Iran, among other things. The taped interview aired Monday during O’Reilly’s show “The O’Reilly Factor.”Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview occurred when O’Reilly asked Mr. Obama to give his opinion of Fox News.
Mr. Obama said the most important thing O’Reilly and his colleagues could do was give viewers the facts. “Just the facts without the spin, I think, is something that would be good for everybody.”
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He said he thought the opinion makers were where “a lot of the viewership gravitates.”
“Do you think you are being treated fairly by Fox News now?” O’Reilly asked.
Mr. Obama answered, “I would say that the news guys I think try to do a good job.” He added, “Fox News, I think, has a point of view. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a strong history in America of all news having some sort of point of view. And Fox News has a point of view and I think that’s part of our democracy.”
“Do you respect it?” asked O’Reilly.
“Absolutely,” said Mr. Obama.
The meat of the interview, however, came from O’Reilly’s questions about Mr. Obama’s policies. For example, O’Reilly asked if Mr. Obama was confident that the United States would win in Afghanistan.
“I can say that we will defeat al Qaeda and that the Taliban will not be retaking Afghanistan,” said Mr. Obama. He admitted that he can’t say those things with 100 percent certainty.
When O’Reilly asked if Mr. Obama trusts Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, Mr. Obama said, “I trust that he cares about his country and cares about the relationship with the United States.”
O’Reilly accused Mr. Obama of not speaking with urgency about the country’s $14 trillion debt during the State of the Union. Mr. Obama seemed to take issue with that assessment.
“I think there was enormous urgency,” he said. “We’re proposing to cut $400 billion of spending over five years.” He added, “We will get domestic spending to the lowest level as a share of [gross domestic product] since Eisenhower.”
After O’Reilly implied there was some sleight of hand going on in Mr. Obama’s numbers regarding the debt, Mr. Obama said, “The long term problem is entitlements.” He said he’s told the GOP he wants to work with them to solve the debt problem.