The tradition of combing sports with politics continues as Fox News host Bill O’Reilly interviews President Barack Obama just prior to Super Bowl XLV. To be aired at 4:45 p.m. EST, the anticipated audience is record-breaking in number.
The postgame interview buzz will include some comparisons to prior presidential “Super Bowl interviews,” which — in Obama’s case — include one with CBS anchor Katie Couric (2010) and NBC’s “Today Show” host Matt Lauer (2009).
Unlike the somewhat lighthearted 2009 interview — laughter score: Lauer 9 vs. Obama 3 (occurrences) per the transcript — O’Reilly’s demeanor should reflect the gravity of the nation’s problems, be it Couric-esque or otherwise.
In 2010, Couric scored 0 vs. Obama-1 on the same scale.
For Lauer’s part, with only 12 days in office, even Obama reaffirmed his pop star status at the time.
(Both videos and transcripts are compiled in this collection by the author. O’Reilly’s pregame interview will also be updated here.)
Past Super Bowl interviews with the president
As far as numbers: a viewership of 110 million is expected for Super Bowl 2011, according to the Baltimore Sun, an increase from last year’s 106.5 million viewers who watched the championship game.
On topic: In 2009, amid a discussion on the President living with his mother-in-law, Lauer’s well-expressed interest in Obama’s BlackBerry e-mail address and Obama’s thoughts on Jessica Simpson imposing on a first family cover story, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus a short discussion on the economy were all addressed.
Some of the interview questions concentrated on Obama’s adjustment to the Oval Office, with mentions of first lady Michelle Obama and his two girls, Sasha and Malia.
(View the Matt Lauer, Obama interview on video or see the transcript.)
Moving forward to 2010, Couric skips the pleasantries, other than to say, “Mr. President, thank you for sitting down with us for a few minutes. We really appreciate it.” Then the famed journalist progresses straight to asking the President:
“Yesterday, you said in front of the DNC Winter Meeting, quote, ‘Just in case there’s any confusion out there, I’m not going to walk away from health care.’ But specifically, how are you going to move forward?”
(View the Couric, Obama interview on video or see the transcript.)
Evaluating Bill O’Reilly, Obama interview
When evaluating O’Reilly’s interview with the president, the Couric interview is indeed worth watching and utilizing as a reference point.
Many topics were addressed – in rapid-fire sound bites, to include: health care, jobs, special interests, the deficit, national security, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Miranda Rights.
Notably, Couric asked Obama:
“A lot of people, including Democrats, wrote to me saying, ‘You campaigned on a slogan of change you can believe in. But their lives and the ways of Washington,’ they wrote, ‘haven’t changed at all.’ What would you say to them?”
It is likely the O’Reilly interview will cover change — and lack of — in government in similar depth and scope.
The interview should address complications such as the Gulf oil spill and offshore drilling, Egypt and stability in the Middle East, and, given time, the Arizona mass shooting tragedy.
Given the problems of the last year, this year’s Obama interview may indeed be record breaking … in more ways than one.