Actually, this is a point I make from time to time, too. I ask people to name the President who put peacetime government limits on wages and prices, and created the EPA. Not everyone remembers that Richard Nixon took all of those actions, all of which were ill-considered — and all of which Congress authorized, implicitly and explicitly. But the real entertainment in this taped segment of the Bill O’Reilly-Barack Obama Super Bowl interview that first aired last night isn’t Obama’s attempt to use Nixon to make himself look moderate, but the claim that no one would care about four dead Americans in Benghazi and the incompetence that caused it if it weren’t for those darned kids at Fox News, or something.
Oh, and at the same time, Obama wants Fox to give him some credit for their ratings:
This interview rolls smoother than the live interview aired on Sunday, in which both men kept talking over each other and mostly circled around the legitimacy of the questions. O’Reilly and Obama have a good discussion on poverty and the breakdown of the family, and Obama mostly dodged the Keystone question in an amicable way. The debate gets more contentious around the welfare state, but it’s still sharp and interesting.
But after offering repeated shots at Fox in an interview to which the White House agreed to participate, O’Reilly puts Obama on the spot and challenges him to specify how Fox News has been unfair. Obama gets caught unprepared:
O’REILLY: Fox News. I can’t speak for Fox, but I’m, you know, the table-setter here at 8 o’clock. Do you think I’m unfair to you? Do you think I’ve been giving –
OBAMA: Absolutely, of course you are Bill! But, I like you anyway. Um –
O’REILLY: Ok, but give me how I’m unfair.
OBAMA: It’s, it’s — but, look . . .
O’REILLY: Give me how I’m unfair, c’mon! You can’t make that accusation without telling me!
OBAMA: [Laughs] Bill, we just went through an interview in which you asked about — uh, healthcare not working, IRS, were we wholly corrupt, Benghazi –
OBAMA: So the list of issues that you talk about –
O’REILLY: But these are unanswered questions!
OBAMA: But, but, but — they’re defined by you guys in a certain way. But, that — look, this is ok. If you wanna be — if you wanna be President of the United States, then you know you’re gonna be subject to criticism, and –
O’REILLY: But if it’s unfair — I wanna know if it’s unfair.
O’REILLY: Criticism is criticism! It’s my job to give you a hard time.
OBAMA: Here — here’s what I would say. I think regardless of whether it’s fair or not, it has made Fox News very successful.
O’REILLY: But if I’m unfair, I want –
OBAMA: Here’s — here’s the thing you guys — here’s what you guys are gonna have to figure out, is what are you gonna do when I’m gone? I’m tellin’ ya.
O’REILLY: Our ratings were high when you weren’t here!
OBAMA: Oh, man, you know — [Laughs]
O’REILLY: OOOOH! [Laughs]
OBAMA: I’ve been a big money-maker for you guys. [Laughs]
Yes, because Fox News languished at the bottom of the ratings until 2009. Oh, wait …