President Donald Trump may be reluctant to say anything negative about Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Fox News host Bill O'Reilly isn't mincing words.
The Kremlin has asked for an apology from Fox News over what it claims were "unacceptable" comments made by O'Reilly about Putin in a Feb. 5 pre-Super Bowl interview with Trump, The Guardian reports.
O'Reilly had described Putin as "a killer" during the interview with Trump as he attempted to get an in-depth answer as to why the U.S. president respected the Russian leader. O'Reilly did not elaborate during the interview who Putin had killed.
"We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told members of the media on a conference call.
According to The Daily Beast, in response to the demand, O'Reilly stated the following to viewers on Feb. 6: "I am working on that apology, but it may take a little time. Might want to check in with me around 2023."
O'Reilly then cited a new book by Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz titled "iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age" as evidence of Putin's brutal vindictiveness.
During the interview, Trump insisted he "respects" the Russian president and did not contest O'Reilly's description of him as a "killer." He replied: "There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What do you think, our country's so innocent?"
On his Feb. 6 program, two guests asked O'Reilly to give his opinion about Trump drawing a moral equivalency between the United States and Russia. When Charles Krauthammer posed the question, O'Reilly facetiously said, "I am a little nervous here. Am I on the hit list? Did you get confirmation that an assassin will be following me home tonight? I just want to be prepared."
But O'Reilly defended Trump's position, explaining: "Here’s how I processed the president’s answer, not that it was a moral equivalency between the United States and Russia about actions, but that we don’t have a right to form a judgment."
O’Reilly recalled the "philosophy that Franklin Roosevelt used when he dealt with Stalin," continuing, "What Trump wants to do is enlist Putin’s help to defeat ISIS and to weaken Iran. So he says, we don’t have a right to make these personal [judgments] that you and I just made about Putin, which are accurate, OK. Because, in the past, the United States has done bad things too. That’s how I processed it."
Addressing historian Jon Meacham, O’Reilly summed up, "My take was that [Trump] is going to go and try and make [better relations] with Russia and overlook Putin being Putin, which is a killer. I don’t think there’s anybody who knows history that knows that isn’t true."