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Obama Fires Back At O'Reilly: Lincoln Absolutely Would Have Done "Two Ferns"

"First of all, if you read back on Lincoln, he loved telling the occasional bawdy joke," the president tells ESPN Radio.

Posted on March 20, 2014, at 12:42 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Fox News' Bill O'Reilly literally co-wrote a book on Abraham Lincoln. But when it comes to understanding the 16th president's lighter side, the current occupant of the White House says O'Reilly has it all wrong.

On ESPN Radio Thursday, Obama responded to O'Reilly's claim that "Abe Lincoln would not have done" a guest spot on Between Two Ferns, saying it's not based in historical fact.

"First of all, if you read back on Lincoln, he loved telling the occasional bawdy joke and being out among regular folks," Obama said.

As the Washington Post reported in 2012, Lincoln was indeed a jokester. And some of them didn't always land. A story with the punch line "Now, by God, I'll see if I can't cut up this turkey without farting" was included in the Post's list of Lincoln's worst jokes.

Obama's mention of Lincoln came during a longer response to a question about why he does so many unorthodox appearances like the one on Between Two Ferns and Thursday's scheduled interview on Ellen.

The president said his goal with the media strategy is to talk to Americans who don't follow the details of politics closely.

"One of the hardest things about being president is being in this bubble that is artificial and and unless you make a conscious effort, you start sounding like some washed-up Washington stiff," Obama said. "And so you've got to consciously try to get out of that, if you want to remind yourself of the wonderful people that you're supposed to be serving, who have a sense of humor and aren't thinking every day about position papers."

Listen to Obama's comments:

View this video on YouTube