But I actually think that we can create a situation in which it is possible for us to draw down our troops in a responsible fashion, that meets my criteria for putting more troops into Afghanistan, but also meets the criteria of all of us to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraqis (inaudible)

WALLACE: But is your job now in this office as commander in chief, a general (inaudible) says to you, we’re going to do it, but it’s going to take a little more than 16 months.

Are you open-minded on that?

OBAMA: I’ve said throughout that I have a conversation with my joint chiefs of staff and commanders on the ground. That’s what I did the day after our the day I was sworn in and we are going to make sure that we have the best possible plan to achieve America’s national security interests.

So: Which “lightening round” was tougher? Which will make more “news?”

On Morning Joe earlier, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough spoke admiringly of the Wallace interview (both anchor and subject):

The Obama administration put the president out to talk to Fox News and Chris Wallace went after him. Really tough. Barack Obama is not hiding from anybody. He’s going out there and answering the tough questions.

More of Wallace’s “tough questions:”

WALLACE: Since you became president, you have warned Republicans, quote, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

OBAMA: Now, how do you know that’s a quote?

WALLACE: Well, I read it in the media.

OBAMA: Yeah.

WALLACE: Did you not say…

OBAMA: I just wanted - I’m not sure that was the exact quote.

WALLACE: Let me throw another one at you and you tell me whether this is an exact quote. You were widely quoted, when you met with the House GOP caucus saying, go ahead, (inaudible) I’ll watch Fox News and feel bad about myself.

OBAMA: That one I did say.

WALLACE: Is perhaps — let me just raise the possibility — are you a trifle thin-skinned?

OBAMA: No, no, no. I said it in good humor. I think everybody understood that that was a joke.

No, I think, Chris — I think it’s fair to say that I don’t always get my most favorable coverage on Fox, but I think that’s part of how democracy is supposed to work. You know, we’re not supposed to all be in lock step here, and you’ve always been very gracious to me and…


WALLACE: … improves or hurts my stock at Fox.

OBAMA: But they heard it.

Those five interviews:

ABC News
CBS News
Fox News
NBC News

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.