President Joe Biden’s first formal interview as the Commander-in-Chief will take place during a uniquely American event: the Super Bowl.
Biden will sit down at the White House with “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell, preserving a recent tradition that has the occupant of the Oval Office take a few minutes to speak with the news division of the network airing the Big Game. But it will not be broadcast live, as it was under President Barack Obama, who helped make the Super Bowl meeting a mainstay element of the extravaganza.
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CBS will televise Super Bowl LV, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Sunday, February 7, with hours of pre-game coverage that kicks off at 11:30 a.m. The interview with Biden is slated to appear in the 4 p.m. hour.
CBS News says it will offer excerpts from the interview on Friday’s broadcast of “CBS Evening News” as well as during Sunday morning’s broadcast of “Face The Nation.” President Biden is expected to discuss Super Bowl LV, his first two weeks in office, his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other news of the day.
O’Donnell is the latest national news anchor to take on the assignment, which comes with a unique set of challenges. Super Bowl viewers aren’t tuning in to hear about the intricacies of domestic policy. Many are – particularly this year – eager to use the football contest as a respite from news of the world, especially after spending nearly a year grappling with a tough economic cycle and the effects of global contagion.
“You have to remember, this is an interview that takes place in the Super Bowl pre-show. The last thing everyone is thinking about or wanting to talk about is politics,” NBC News anchor Savannah Guthrie told Variety about the task in 2016, a year after she interviewed President Obama during NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX. While the interview took place in front of a display of White House beer and other refreshments, Guthrie pressed Obama on a myriad of issues. The assignment, she said, “is striking the right balance, having the right tone for the context of the day, but you want to do an interview that is helpful, asks some important questions.”
O’Donnell’s colleagues Margaret Brennan and Gayle King have also taken on the Super Bowl challenge, with King interviewing both Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2016 and Brennan interviewing President Donald Trump in 2019. Trump was interviewed by Fox News host Sean Hannity last year in a taped exchange that was shown before the Fox broadcast network’s telecast of Super Bowl LIV. “I want to make sure I put myself in the position of somebody at home, hanging out with friends and waiting for the game to start,” Hannity told Variety in 2020. “It’s not my day,” he added. “People want to hear from the president.”
CBS News intends to cover the event across many of its best-known outlets “CBS This Morning” will dispatch correspondent Jamie Yuccas to explore how the NFL will coordinate the event during a pandemic, while co-anchor Anthony Mason will re-examine Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” thirty years after she sang it. The Saturday broadcast of “Morning” will catch up with profile Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a medical school graduate, who opted out of the season to provide medical care to patients, among other stories.
On Super Bowl Sunday, “Face The Nation” will also feature an interview between Brennan and longtime “NFL Today” host James Brown. Meanwhile, “CBS Sunday Morning” will tackle the event on Game Day through its own inimitable lens.
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