A defensive Robin Roberts on Monday lauded the potential passage of any kind of health care bill as a "historic moment," seeming to bristle at Bill O’Reilly’s grade of a D for the President’s performance on this issue. The Fox News host appeared on Good Morning America to award Barack Obama a D, C and B, overall.
O’Reilly bluntly assessed, "Health care, I'd say D as in dog...But, you can't be putting out a 2,000-page bill, which the Senate did, and President Obama has not been able to explain it." He challenged the ABC host, "Do you understand any of this? I don't." Seeming to ignore O’Reilly’s critique, Roberts shot back, "But we do know that if something is passed, Harry Truman couldn't get anything passed. President Clinton couldn't get anything passed. It will be an historic moment." [Audio available here.]
O’Reilly simply dismissed, "That's good. But, we won't understand what it is that's historic. We'll go, 'Hey, it's historic, but I don't know what it is!'"
On Afghanistan, the cable anchor rendered his verdict: "C. Took him far too long to make a decision. That helped the Taliban and it rattled Pakistan. All right? Pakistan is scared. They don't know what the USA is go to do so Pakistan isn't going to invest in their army and their blood unless they know we're growing to be in that region." On the jobs front, he was kinder, giving the President a B, saying that Obama "stabilized" the economy.
However O’Reilly was a much tougher grader than ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, rumored to be the next co-host of GMA. During the 2008 presidential election, Stephanopoulos went four-for-four, declaring Obama or Joe Biden the "report card winner" in every debate.
A transcript of the December 7 segment, which aired at 7:12, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Rallying cry. The President makes a rare visit to the Capitol, pitching senators on health care reform, all as he’s set to unveil a new jobs plan. Bill O’Reilly is here with a presidential report card.
ROBIN ROBERTS: As we told you earlier, this will be a critical two weeks for President Obama as he makes a big push on two critical issues, health care and jobs. And of course, just last week, he announced a new policy concerning Afghanistan. The President dealing in a major way with three major issues at the same time. We're going to get a presidential report card now from Bill O'Reilly, the New York Times best-seller on the list for 49 weeks with his Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity. And, of course, he’s also, the host of the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. 49 weeks?
BILL O’REILLY: It’s President Obama’s favorite book, I hear. I just made that up. But, it can’t hurt, right?
ROBERTS: Sounds good. Sounds good. Let's give a report card on three fronts. Let's start with health care.
O’REILLY: Okay. Health care, I'd say D as in dog. And the reason is, we need health care. I think everybody understands in America, it's chaotic now. But, you can't be putting out a 2,000-page bill, which the Senate did, and President Obama has not been able to explain it. I mean, it's our job to watch him when he goes on TV to try to explain it.
O’REILLY: Do you understand any of this? I don't.
ROBERTS: But we do know that if something is passed, Harry Truman couldn't get anything passed. President Clinton couldn't get anything passed. It will be an historic moment.
O’REILLY: That's good. But we won't understand what it is that’s historic. We’ll go, "Hey, it's historic, but I don't know what it is!"
ROBERTS: But, haven’t you- I think I heard you say it's imperfect in a lot of ways but if we do nothing that would be worse.
O’REILLY: All I want, Robin, all I'm pleading for, I want to understand the bill that's going to cost a trillion dollars and nobody can explain it! And he can't explain it. That’s why he gets a D.
ROBERTS: He gets a D for that.
O’REILLY: D for dog.
ROBERTS: How about for jobs? We’ve seen an encouraging trend.
O’REILLY: B-boy for dogs. Dogs? B-boy for jobs.
O’REILLY: Because more dogs have jobs. It's very, very encouraging that this month the unemployment rate actually went down even though it's the Christmas/Hanukkah season. We had chaos, and Obama stepped in and he did a lot of things that people criticized him for. So I think he stabilized the economy to some extent. So I'm giving him a B right now on the jobs front because it’s a tremendously difficult situation.
ROBERTS: We got such great news. Great news being 11,000 jobs lost last month. When you look at the beginning of the year, 700,000 jobs lost.
O’REILLY: That’s right. And that’s why he gets a B.
ROBERTS: And that’s why he gets a B. So, a D, a B and now Afghanistan?
O’REILLY: C. C. Took him far too long to make a decision. That helped the Taliban and it rattled Pakistan. All right? Pakistan is scared. They don't know what the USA is go to do so Pakistan isn't going to invest in their army and their blood unless they know we're growing to be in that region. So, by taking too long, he gave the Taliban encouragement and rattled Pakistan. The benefit that came out of taking too long is he sent a message to Karzai, you better clean it up as far as you can. But I have to give him a C there because I think he could have acted more decisively. And his speech at West Point was not good. He needed to get a little General Patton in there. He should have said we're going to kick some you-know-what. He didn’t do that and cadets were falling sleep. It’s never good when your army is falling asleep. That’s never good.
ROBERTS: But you were not critical as some others were about the time line. That didn’t bother you so much?
O’REILLY: The time line? What do you mean?
ROBERTS: About the time line of withdrawing troops?
O’REILLY: No, no, he has to say that to get the Europeans to cooperate. He has to say, we're not going to be there forever, but help us now. But when it comes right down to it, is Obama going to pull them out? If it's an intense in Afghanistan? He's not. He didn't do in Iraq. Look, I’m not an ideologue. I know why these guys do it and why they do it. And that’s why that didn’t bother me. All the ideologues were "Oh, yeah! Now! The Taliban is going to hide in the weeds!" That’s bull. Everybody knows if it’s not going well in that juncture, he won’t pull them out, unless it’s hopeless. So, that didn’t upset me.
ROBERTS: So, it's a bit of a mixed bag, when you look at all of the things he has on his plate. The remaining time, my friend, Diane Sawyer. You can't give her a grade. There’s no superlative well enough- good enough.
O’REILLY: Diane Sawyer? For Good Morning America all these years?
O’REILLY: Just getting up. You guys- Just getting up, you get a B-plus. Showing up at this morning at this hour, a B-plus.
DIANE SAWYER: What do we have to do to get an A from you?
O’REILLY: That's what you start with, Robin, then if you do anything intelligent in three hours, it bumps to the A. Now, some days you do, some days you don’t Particularly Cuomo. How long are you guys going to carry him? How long are you going to carry him?
ROBERTS: Sorry about that, Chris. Didn’t mean to-
CUOMO: I was excited about the B-plus.
O’REILLY: And I’m excited for Diane hosting Jimmy Kimmel. That’s what she’s doing, right? Aren’t you taking over for Kimmel?
SAWYER: Chris was just collateral damage in all of this.
ROBERTS: Mr. O’Reilly, thanks so much.
O’REILLY: Merry Christmas, everyone.
CUOMO: Merry Christmas, Bill. Coal in your stocking.