Obama spars with Fox News host in testy pre-Super Bowl interview

WASHINGTON Sun Feb 2, 2014 6:59pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he discusses unemployment, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 31, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he discusses unemployment, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 31, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama accused Fox News on Sunday of keeping alive controversies the White House believes have been settled in a testy interview that aired before the NFL's Super Bowl, the most-viewed sports event in the United States.

Host Bill O'Reilly asked Obama why he did not fire his health and human services chief over the botched rollout of the healthcare law last year, whether there was "widespread corruption" at the Internal Revenue Service, and whether the White House had tried to play down the significance of a 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Obama said "some boneheaded decisions" were to blame for extra scrutiny the IRS had given to conservative Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, and that the issue had been cleared up during "multiple hearings" in Congress.

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

O'Reilly, who hosts a popular program on the most-watched U.S. cable news network, told Obama that many people believed his campaign team sought to downplay the cause of insurgent attacks in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

"They believe it because folks like you are telling them that," Obama said, rejecting the allegation, which became a heated issue in the last stages of the 2012 presidential election.

O'Reilly pressed Obama to explain why he did not fire Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after the website used to enroll people in the new healthcare program known as Obamacare, failed to work during its launch last October.

"My main priority right now is making sure that it delivers for the American people," Obama said, telling O'Reilly that enrollment in health insurance was "about a month behind" projections because of the early problems.

"I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable," Obama said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (59)
Dr_Steve wrote:
Although I am no Obama fan, I do wish that Fox would give it up already. Let it go.

Feb 02, 2014 7:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ARJTurgot2 wrote:
“They believe it because folks like you are telling them that,”

aided substantially by things like the manipulations of Susan Rice, and the Lie of the Year designation.

Feb 02, 2014 8:38pm EST  --  Report as abuse
scratchgolfer wrote:
Obama and his minions simply cannot accept responsibility for anything. He is completely out of touch with anyone outside of Washington DC but those outside of DC know that he is an complete failure. If anyone believes that the IRS was not politically motivated to single out the conservative cause, they are smoking dope. And how many of you readers actually believe that there is any chance that the Benghazi attack was the result of of an “offensive” video? And of course Fox news is responsible for the complete failure of Obamacare. Sooner or later his chickens must come home to roost>

Feb 02, 2014 9:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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