Flashback: Six Years of Obama Super Bowl Softballs

Bill O’Reilly will be talking to Donald Trump on Sunday for what has now become the standard pre-Super Bowl presidential interview. For most of Barack Obama’s eight years, he had the luxury of softball interviews with liberal journalists. (Except in 2011 and 2014 when O’Reilly got to offer tough questions.) Here’s a look back at those eight interviews before the big game. 

In 2016, when CBS News assigned Gayle King, a donor, supporter and friend of the Obama family, to interview the President and his wife before the Super Bowl, the network guaranteed one of the softest interviews in the history of this administration. Asking not one serious question, the journalist instead highlighted her favorite photo of the President and his wife. King also brought up dance moves, relationship issues and Super Bowl predictions. 

At one point during the nearly-eight minute segment, the CBS This Morning co-host held up a photograph from the 2009 inaugural balls. She gushed, “I just happen to have this picture here....What were you two thinking? One word? It's one of my favorite pictures of the Obama administration.”

Highlighting a film about the 1989 first date between Barack and Michelle Obama, King enthused, “When I think about the Obamas, even your dates make national news. They become news stories.” 

Back in 2009, Matt Lauer gushed to Obama, gushing, "Has there been any surprise in terms about life in the White House? Is there something at the White House that you didn't think they had or doesn't have that you thought they did have?" 

The enamored Today host continued, "...Not only did you just become president, obviously that carries a certain amount of fame  with it. But — but you have achieved a — a certain rock-star status outside of that." 

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The Super Bowl interview rotates between the networks that carry football (CBS, Fox and NBC). In 2009, Lauer talked to the President. In 2010, then-CBS anchor Katie Couric scored the interview. In 2011, it was Fox News's O'Reilly. In 2012, Lauer again got the job. In 2013, it returned to CBS and Scott Pelley. In 2014, O'Reilly grilled Obama. The two appearances on Fox constitute rare instances when Obama talked to the network. 

In comparison to Lauer's 2009 performance, Couric in 2010 offered tougher questions. She pressed: 

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?

On February 2, 2014, O'Reilly demanded, "Why do you feel it's necessary to fundamentally transform the nation that has afforded you so much opportunity?" 

In 2011, O'Reilly chided, "Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth?" 

In 2013, CBS's Pelley didn't exactly grill Obama as he wondered: 

It was right here in this room two weeks ago today that you took the oath of office for the second time to begin your second term, so let me ask you about the next four years. You have just raised tax rates on families that make more than $450,000 a year and above. Are you through raising tax rates? 

Tune in on Sunday afternoon to see how O'Reilly's interview with Trump goes.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.