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VIDEO: Obama And O'Reilly Hit Harder Than Denver And Seattle

There wasn't anything close about Sunday's Super Bowl — a 43-8 blowout win for the Seattle Seahawks over the Denver Broncos.

But before the big game, there was a much more contentious contest:

President Obama's live interview with Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly.

As The New York Times says, "some of the hardest hits of Super Bowl Sunday came a couple of hours before kickoff" when the president "found himself confronting a full-scale blitz" from O'Reilly.

"In the interview," the Times continues:

"Obama was grilled about the botched rollout of the health care law, his discredited assurances that anyone who liked their insurance could keep it, the attack on the American post in Benghazi, Libya, and the Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of conservative groups.

"His answers shed little if any new light on some of the most controversial moments of Mr. Obama's presidency, but it was a feisty 10-minute encounter that exposed the different world views of Mr. Obama and some of his sharpest critics."

Fox has posted a transcript here. As you can see in the video and read in the transcript, O'Reilly did not adjust his interviewing style. He was his usual persistent self. It's the second time O'Reilly has done a pre-Super Bowl sitdown with Obama, who has made a point of doing such interviews with an anchor from the network that's broadcasting the game. In 2011, as It's All Politics reported, O'Reilly "peppered [the president] with questions and interrupted repeatedly, as is O'Reilly's customary style."

At one point Sunday, after O'Reilly had quizzed the president about the difficult rollout of the health care program, the Benghazi attacks and the IRS scandal, the president smilingly got in a bit of a shot at Fox: "These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them," Obama said.

Although they were combative, the two men never appeared angry with each other. Toward the end, O'Reilly said, "I know you think maybe we haven't been fair, but I think your heart is in the right place." And after O'Reilly thanked the president for sitting down with him, Obama said, "I enjoyed it."

During the Super Bowl game — and about four hours after the Obama-O'Reily interview was broadcast — another prominent Democrat weighed in with some words of her own about Fox.

"It's so much more fun to watch FOX when it's someone else being blitzed & sacked!" tweetedformer first lady and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Her press secretary, Nick Merrill, tells USA Todaythat the tweet was meant to be "good-natured, lighthearted, and self-deprecating."

Related note: Just like almost every other person who tried to predict what would happen in the Super Bowl, the president got it wrong. He told O'Reilly that the two teams were evenly matched and "I think it is going to be 24-21, but I don't know who's going to be."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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