The Factor Rundown
Weekdays with Bernie Segment
The Factor began Monday's show with new excerpts from Sunday's interview with President Obama. After the live portion ended, the president took questions for another ten minutes. Among the topics, the dissolution of the American family:
O'REILLY: On your watch, median income has dropped 17 percent among working families in this country. Part of it was this terrible recession, everybody knows that. But 72 percent of babies in the African-American community are born out of wedlock now. Why isn't there a campaign by you and the first lady to address that problem very explicitly?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Actually, Bill, we address it explicitly all the time. I'll send you at least 10 speeches that I've made since I've been president talking about the importance of men taking responsibility for their children, talking about the importance of young people delaying gratification, talking about the importance of, when it comes to child-rearing, paying child support, spending time with your kids, reading with them. Whether it's getting publicity or not is a whole different question.
O'REILLY: But I don't see the pressure from the federal government to go in and say, this is wrong, this is this is killing futures of babies and children.
OBAMA: I've just got to say, Bill, we talk about it all the time. And we'll continue to talk about it. We're convening, for example, philanthropists and businesspeople city by city who are interested in addressing these kinds of problems at the local level. What's interesting, when you look at what's going on right now, you're starting to see, in a lot of white working class homes, similar problems. When men can't find good work, when the economy is shutting ladders of opportunity off from people, whether they're black, white, Hispanic, it doesn't matter, then that puts pressure on the home. So you've got an interaction between an economy that isn't generating enough good jobs for folks who traditionally could get blue collar jobs even if they didn't have higher education and some legitimate social concerns that compound the problem.
President Obama also discussed the Keystone Pipeline, which is still awaiting his final approval:
O'REILLY: Keystone Pipeline, a new study comes in, environmental impact negligible, 42,000 jobs. You're going to OK it, I assume?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, it's not 42,000, that's not correct. It's a couple thousand to build the pipeline.
O'REILLY: Forty-two all told.
OBAMA: Well, the bottom line is what we're going to do is to the process now goes agencies comment on what the State Department did. The public is allowed to comment. Kerry is going to give me a recommendation.
O'REILLY: All right, so I assume we're going to do that after five years
OBAMA: We'll take a look at it.
O'REILLY: Okay, I'll take that as a yes.
The Factor also questioned the President about his apparent fixation with Fox News:
O'REILLY: I can't speak for Fox News, but I'm the table setter here at 8:00. Do you think I've been unfair to you?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely, of course you are, Bill. But I like you anyway.
O'REILLY: Give me how I'm unfair. You cant make that accusation without telling me.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bill, we just went through an interview in which you asked about the health care not working, IRS was wholly corrupt, Benghazi.
O'REILLY: But these are unanswered questions ... it's my job to give you a hard time.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think regardless of whether it's fair or not, it has made Fox News very successful. What you guys are going to have to figure out is what are you going to do when I'm gone.
O'REILLY: I gave President Bush a real hard time.
O'REILLY: Are you the most liberal president in U.S. history?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Probably not ... In a lot of ways, Richard Nixon was more liberal. He started the EPA, he started a whole lot of the regulatory state that has helped make our air and water clean.
O'REILLY: I thought you were going to say FDR.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, FDR, Johnson. But I tend not to think about these things in terms of liberal and Democrat or liberal and conservative because at any given time, the question is, what does the country need right now?
O'REILLY: I think that you are much more friendly to a nanny state than I am. I'm more of a self-reliance guy, you're more of a big government will solve your problems guy.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And I disagree with that because I think that what used to be considered sensible, we now somehow label as liberal. Think about it, Social Security, Medicare.
O'REILLY: But you're paying for that, it's the freebies that are the problem.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What freebies are we talking about? Welfare actually is worth less now than it was 20, 30 years ago, it's worth less than it was under Ronald Reagan.
O'REILLY: Take a look at the disability explosion. I mean it's insane. The workplace isn't any more dangerous now than it was 20 years ago. It's through the roof, you know people are conning you.
OBAMA: We have not massively expanded the welfare state, that's just not true. When you take a look at it, actually, the levers of support that we provide to folks who are willing to work hard are not that different than they were 30 years ago, 40 years ago or 50 years ago. You and I took advantage to certain things. I don't know about you, but I got some loans to go to college.
O'REILLY: No, I painted houses, I didn't get any loans.
OBAMA: I painted houses during the summer, too. It still wasn't enough. So the so my point is is that that's not a nanny state, that's an investment in the future generation.
The conversation ended with a issue that brought comity and agreement:
O'REILLY: I have come to you four times, and every time you have at done what I have asked. And we have raised more than $20 million for wounded veterans and their families. So when they say that you don't care and all of that, I know that's not true. But fundamentally, the self-reliance thing in America is going down and the nanny state is going up. Last word, you get it.
OBAMA: Here's what I believe. First of all, the biggest honor I've ever had and will ever have is serving as commander-in-chief. And when you meet our military families and our men and women in uniform, they are so outstanding, you just have to want to help them. And you have done great work, Bill, on behalf of our veterans. Number two, I think self-reliance is alive and well in America. I think the problem is people don't see as many opportunities to get ahead. My job as president, as long as I'm in this office, is to give them the tools to get ahead. They've got to work hard, they've got to be responsible. But if they are, let's make sure that they can make it in America. That's what it's all about. That's how you and I ended up sitting here talking.
The Factor also re-aired portions of the interview that aired live prior to the Super Bowl, during which President Obama defended his health care law. "I don't think I anticipated the degree of the problems with the website," he conceded. "The good news is that right away we decided how are we going to fix it, it got fixed within a month and a half, it was up and running and now it's working the way it's supposed to and we've signed up three million people." Asked why he hasn't fired Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama insisted, "I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable." He also evaded some pointed questions about the terror attack in Benghazi and insisted that there was "not even a smidgeon of corruption" in the IRS alleged targeting of conservative organizations."
Guests: Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer entered the No Spin Zone with his analysis of the interview. "The headline is that he knows how to run," Dr. K stated, "but he can't always hide. On some issues he was able to escape, but on Sebelius he never answered the question. On the Keystone Pipeline, he kind of escaped by saying it still has to be studied. This thing has been studied for five-and-a-half years, longer than the Second World War, and he's still holding out." Krauthammer also opined on the president's attempt to minimize some issues. "He largely pretends that these are distractions invented by Fox News as a way to deflect them. When he tells you they were straight with Benghazi, it is simply not true." The Factor gave this assessment of the interview and the president: "I don't think he thinks my questions about Benghazi, the IRS, and the rollout of ObamaCare are important. In his own mind, he feels like he's doing what's right for the country and these are just little annoyances."
Guests: Juan Williams & Mary Katharine Ham
The Factor also asked Mary Katharine Ham and Juan Williams to evaluate Sunday's interview, particularly President Obama's declaration that there was not a "smidgeon of corruption" in the IRS scandal. "The president was right to tell you that there were boneheaded mistakes," Williams said, "but not a smidgeon of corruption. So far you and I haven't seen any findings of corruption. He also told you that he hasn't fired Kathleen Sebelius because he wants people in place that he trusts." But Ham argued that President Obama is wrong about the IRS issue. "He initially came out saying they would get to the bottom of this, which is what he does with everything. The IRS admitted wrongdoing and people did bad things to other people, they abused the power of the government. He was very defensive about it with you."
Guests: Bernie Goldberg
For one more evaluation of Sunday's interview, The Factor turned to FNC's Bernard Goldberg. "I thought the interview was only mildly more interesting than the Super Bowl," Goldberg stated, "and not nearly as interesting as the halftime show by Bruno Mars. The questions were fine, but this president wasn't going to level with you or the American people. Just take the IRS, where he said there was no corruption. Then why did Lois Lerner plead the Fifth Amendment? This was a dog-and-pony show, ten minutes of you getting what you needed, which was speaking to the president before a huge audience, and the president getting what he needed, which was taking on big, bad Bill O'Reilly!" The Factor disagreed, saying, "The fact that he was evasive on some very pointed questions is very illuminating."
Super Bowl Festivities
Guest: Jesse Watters
Jesse Watters spent part of last week attending various Super Bowl soirees at which he interviewed such luminaries as Regis Philbin, Erin Andrews, Carol Alt, Joan Rivers, David Spade, and Stephen Colbert. Perhaps the pithiest comment came from radio host Howard Stern: "I don't like Watters' World, all of America rejects Watters' World, even Bill O'Reilly doesn't like Watters' World." Nevertheless, Watters vowed to return Tuesday night with "more salacious" interviews from his party tour.
Viewers sound off
Chuck Miller, St. Charles, MO: "Biggest chicken, self-serving interview I ever saw. You blew it, Bill, you let him ramble."
Loreen Rorex, Johnson City, TN: "Bill, you threw soft balls at the president! You are losing your edge."
Brian McLafferty: "Bill, I was just subjected to your disrespectful interview of President Obama and was highly insulted."
Judy Day, Washington State: "Bill, shame on you for being such a jerk. You were rude to the president and interrupted him."
Vicki Westerman, Sherwood, OR: "O'Reilly, whatever the equivalent of the Lombardi Trophy is in journalism, you just earned it. Best interview, ever, by anyone."
Making the Grade
Whether you're writing a book report or interviewing the President of the United States, just try to be well-prepared and to do your best. It's all anyone can ask.