President Obama calls out Bill O'Reilly and Fox News for promoting conspiracy theories

In his much-hyped pre-Super Bowl interview with the president, Bill O'Reilly asks about...the IRS


Elias Isquith
February 3, 2014 3:55AM (UTC)

On Sunday, Bill O'Reilly got the chance to sit down and interview the president of the United States before the Super Bowl. For a political journalist, landing such an interview before such a large audience is in itself kind of like performing at the Super Bowl. It's a big, big stage, and a great opportunity to ask important questions of the most powerful politician in the world.

So, obviously, Bill O'Reilly decided to spend the majority of his one-on-one with President Obama talking about the stuff that really matters — like Benghazi and the IRS.

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When it came to Benghazi, O'Reilly asked the president whether he was told, in the moments following 2012's attack on the U.S. mission in Libya, that it was an act of terror.

Obama noted that in his first official comments following the attack, he referred to it as an act of terror. (If this sounds familiar, it's because it is; this is the same argument the president had with Mitt Romney during the second presidential debate of the 2012 election.)

"Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign didn’t want that out," O’Reilly continued. "That's what they believe."

"And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that," Obama quickly responded, with evident frustration.

As the interview continued, O'Reilly continued to focus his questions on right-wing conspiracy theories, turning next to the so-called targeting of conservatives by the IRS. (Like "questions" about the president's response to Benghazi, this story is not only extremely old news, but has been thoroughly debunked.)

"What some people are saying," O'Reilly began, "is that the IRS was used at a local level in Cincinnati, maybe other places —"

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"Absolutely wrong. Absolutely," Obama quickly interrupted.

"But how do you know that, because we still don't know what happened?" O'Reilly responded

"Bill, we do — that's not what happened," was Obama's exasperated response. "Folks, again, had multiple hearings on this."

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The president then noted that the only reason people were still talking about these conspiracy theories is because Fox News and its employees (like Bill O'Reilly) keep bringing them up.

"These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them," Obama said.

"But don't you feel there are unanswered questions?" O'Reilly continued to push.

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Obama then began to explain what actually happened at the IRS, but O'Reilly wasn't interested.

Check out video of the interview below:


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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