between the lines logo (anthony asadullah samad)*President Barack Obama has established a tradition of opening the White House on Super Bowl Sunday to friends, supporters and the press—the highlight that of which has become an annual on-air interview just prior to the Super Bowl. Part of being “the people’s” President.

It’s a gamble. To his credit, the Prez takes all comers—liberal and conservative interviewers. Even some of the ideologues who are bent on trying to embarrass him at every turn.

Even those stuck on stupid.

Enter Fox Political Pundit, Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly is part pundit, part bully, full time whiner for the right—that spends most his time criticizing this President, which—when fair—is what the press is supposed to do. However, O’Reilly has a history of creating monsters that aren’t there, drumming “asked and answered” questions trying to drum up a hysteria of corruption or climate of cover-up around this administration and offering “Red Herring” theories that have nothing to do with anything. O’Reilly is your classic Republican conspiracy theorist.

Some people specialize in suggesting that correlation is causation. Elementary “Dick Tracy” detective assembling of several unrelated facts to try to suggest some sinister conclusion can be derived by pieces of information that have nothing to do with each other.  It’s really anti-intellectualism at its purest. But you can usually trick somebody into believing the unrelated are related, and that up is down and down is up.

It’s called conspiratorial framing. Fact A correlates with Fact B, so it must cause false conclusion C to be fact also. It’s poor logic and the basis for which minds are manipulated and from which conspiracy theories are founded. Witch hunts are hatched in the same manner, and we know some segments of society have been painting President Obama “red” (socialist or communist) from the day he took office. For the last five years we’ve watched this nonsense.

At its best, it makes for interesting conversation. At its worse, it makes for a waste of time and mental energy. That was the takeaway from this year’s Presidential Super Bowl interview. Watching Bill O’Reilly jab at air was hardly enlightening. Watching the President defuse the conspiracy was more enlightening—but hardly worth the time.

Still 4.2 million people watched it.

The thing about conspiracies—once they’re diffused—there’s nothing to talk about. A fool is still a fool and reality is still reality—neither the two shall meet.

Real facts, notwithstanding.

O’Reilly came into the interview with a bunch of disassembled assumption and disassociated facts. And in his usual bully fashion, sought mis-contextualize the facts and match them with his misassumptions—then cast them in a sinister light to give the appearance of impropriety or corruption. To put it succinctly, he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He looked like a fool. But that’s generally how fools jump out the box, trying to make the un-intelligible sound intelligent…and factual. Obama busted him in the mouth every time.

First, it was the Obamacare website start-up and the implementation challenges. To bring that up was fair, but then to insist that Obama knew and that some cover-up was in effect, or to continually insist that the website director be fired when it was a system capacity problem that needed time for implementation, was simply uncorrelated conjecture.

The one thing Obama has never had—was time, as far as the Republicans are concerned.

Then he raised suspicion about the IRS Director visiting the White House some 150 plus times—inferring that the President somehow was in on the IRS’ targeting of conservative non-profits, when it was on the tax implications of Obamacare and tax reform discussions.

Again, made up conjecture based on disassociated facts/

Then it was the rehashing of the Benghazi incident, was it an “act of terror,” was it not an “act of terror,” when did the President call it, what he knew, who was responsible, etc. etc. etc.

I’m with former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on this one (who said “What does it matter at this point,” when being questioned by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigating Benghazi), the administration has already told you what it knew and have tried to fix it—for crying out loud…It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Can we get a break?

After the President, clearly frustrated with the line of questioning (and I’m sure his choice of interviewer), suggested that this was all “asked and answered,” O’Reilly asked him a question—from a woman from Fresno—about why he wants to change the fundamental values of the country that elected him? Please…ideological rhetoric just before the Super Bowl?

I was done. I’m sure the President was too. He couldn’t even muster himself to engage O’Reilly any longer with a prediction on the game. A BS interview from the first question.

That’s how conspiracies go…all fog, no validity…and the hunt for “Red Obama” continues.

Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist and author of, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21 Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com and on Twitter at @DrAnthonySamad.

anthony asadullah samad

Anthony Asadullah Samad