It’s a Fox tradition. When the network broadcasts the Super Bowl, Bill O’Reilly interviews the President of the United States.
O’Reilly sat down with President Donald Trump to tape an interview which was broadcast during the Fox Super Bowl Pregame show, a 4.5-hour affair set to cover every aspect of the game and, evidently, a little bit of politics as well.
It’s not the first time the network has intertwined the two worlds most likely to spark debates among friends. O’Reilly interviewed then-President Barack Obama the last two times the game aired on Fox, in 2011 and 2014.
The Fox News host prided himself on asking contentious questions in a statement released earlier in the month, but also suggested his interview with President Trump could be a bit less hard-hitting.
“You may remember, I did this back in 2014 with Barack Obama, and it was controversial because I pushed the president on a number of issues, including the terror attack at Benghazi,” O'Reilly said.
“This time around, I expect to ask President Trump a number of policy questions but also about how he is processing his amazing achievement: A man with no political experience winning the most powerful office in the world.”
O’Reilly jumped right in, immediately asking questions about Trump’s foreign policy, including the travel ban issued against residents of seven Middle East countries. Trump defended the policy briefly, but wasn’t pressed by the Fox News host.
Among the questions O’Reilly did ask to Trump, in an excerpt released by Fox on Saturday, regarded Russian President Vladimir Putin. When asked about his counterpart, Trump was almost deferential.
“I do respect him. ... And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world — that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.”
“But he’s a killer, though,” O’Reilly said. “Putin’s a killer.”
“There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers,” Trump said. “What do you think — our country’s so innocent?”
He also touched on Iran, calling the nuclear arms deal former President Obama struck with the country “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated.”
“We gave them $1.7 billion in cash, which is unheard of, and we put the money up, and we really have nothing to show for it.” He wouldn’t, however, commit to rolling back the deal, instead promising sanctions for Iran if he doesn’t see the results for which he’s looking.
After rolling through Asia, Trump struck closer to home to comment on another country he’s increasingly alienated throughout his campaign and the opening weeks of his presidency — Mexico.
“I love the people. I really like this administration. But they have problems controlling aspects of their country. I would say the drugs and drug cartels are number one.”
From there, O’Reilly moved north, asking Trump his thoughts about California’s push to become a sanctuary state for immigrants. While he wasn’t explicit, the President suggested federal defunding could be one way he deals with states and cities who fail to comply with his legislation.
Finally, he wrapped up the interview by praising his friends Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady before hesitantly picking the Patriots to win by eight points.