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By Peter Baker
The New York Times
Some of the hardest hits of Super Bowl Sunday came a couple of hours before kickoff.
In keeping with his tradition of appearing on the network broadcasting football's championship game, President Barack Obama found himself confronting a full-scale blitz by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News.
In the interview, conducted live before the game, 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 Obama's presidency, but it was a feisty 10- minute encounter.
O'Reilly, sitting forward in his chair at the White House, pressed Obama repeatedly. The president pushed back in kind. At times, the two men talked right over each other.
When O'Reilly asked if the broken promise on keeping health plans was "the biggest mistake of your presidency," Obama responded, "Oh, Bill, you've got a long list of my mistakes of my presidency."
When O'Reilly interrupted an answer to press Obama on why Susan Rice, now the president's national security adviser, first characterized the Benghazi attack as a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video, Obama said, "And I'm trying to explain it to you if you want to listen."
O'Reilly went on to say that Obama's detractors believe the administration tried to mislead the public about what really happened in Benghazi because it was in the middle of his re- election campaign.
"They believe it because folks like you are telling them," Obama responded.
"No, I'm not telling them that," O'Reilly said.
O'Reilly ended the session on a softer note. "I know you think maybe we haven't been fair," he said, "but I think your heart is in the right place."