NBC scored the first sit-down TV interview of 2022 with President Joe Biden, courtesy of the network broadcasting the Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and LA Rams on Sunday. Lester Holt, the anchor of the “NBC Nightly News,” conducted the roughly 20-minute interview.
On Sunday we saw about three minutes of it, sandwiched into five hours of pregame show.
So where was the rest of the interview?
Already seen, on the nightly news and the “Today” show earlier last week. Patience is not a virtue when it comes to TV. This was more of a quick hit with the president, an in-and-out between fare like NBC’s Tony Dungy and Drew Brees reminiscing about their Super Bowl experience and a performance by the Chainsmokers — along with a lot of promotion of NBC shows, by way of “interviews” with their stars.
Some of those were as long as Holt’s interview with Biden, it seemed like.
Super Bowl pregame info: How to watch NBC’s Lester Holt’s Super Bowl pregame interview with President Joe Biden
No one expects a 20-minute interview during Super Bowl pregame
Look, no one expects football fans to sit through a 20-minute interview with the president. That’s not why you tune in. (I didn’t tune in for a Chainsmokers performance, either, but I digress.) But Holt’s interview was awfully brief.
Of course the desire to gin up interest in the interview-averse Biden is understandable. And there weren’t many surprises. But whatever news the interview did make — Biden is doing a “deep dive” on four candidates for the upcoming vacancy on the US Supreme Court, for instance — was already out there, courtesy of the lengthy excerpts we saw earlier last week.
The biggest story — Biden’s phone call with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, in which he warned the Russian leader against invading Ukraine — couldn’t be part of the pregame interview, though that’s through no fault of NBC or Holt. Holt’s interview took place on Thursday.
So maybe bring back at least some kind of live-interview element? George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s Super Bowl interviews were live. That retains some element of freshness.
The audience watching the Super Bowl pregame show is of course different, and certainly more eclectic, than the audience that watches nightly broadcast news reports or morning shows, though there’s doubtless crossover. If you have an exclusive you want to get it out in front of as many viewers as you can, as soon as you can.
But it also takes away from the feeling of exclusivity of the moment. It feels less special.
For instance, when Holt asked a pointed question about inflation and Biden began his answer with, “Well, you’re being a wise guy with me a little bit,” that was dramatic, the kind of thing that could break through in a Super Bowl pregame interview.
Except that we didn’t see it Sunday — NBC had already aired it on the nightly news.
This tactic isn’t peculiar to NBC. Networks often parcel out bits and pieces of big interviews and stories over their various platforms.
And it’s not just news. The demand for instant gratification has seen into everything. We just can’t wait.
For instance, remember when people looked forward to Super Bowl commercials? Some people watch the game for the commercials, for which advertisers pay top dollar and whose production values typically reflect that.
There are still Super Bowl commercials, they’re still exorbitantly priced (some 30-second commercials reportedly cost as much as $7 million) and they’re also no longer all that surprising, because so many of them appear online in the days leading up to the game.
There goes the element of surprise. I really was looking forward to the trailer for “Nope,” Jordan Peele’s upcoming movie about which next to nothing is known. That was definitely something to look forward to.
Until I watched it on YouTube Sunday morning.
Holt did a good job questioning Biden, framing questions in a football context
As for the interview, Holt did a good job in all the various chunks of interview. In the portion airing Sunday he framed questions about COVID-19 in a football context. (Many fans at SoFi Stadium for the game on Sunday won’t be wearing masks, Holt said — what would Biden say to people ignoring local mandates?)
He also got an intriguing quote out of Biden, when asking about the league’s lack of diversity among its coaching and management ranks, the subject of a lawsuit by former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores.
“It just seems to me that it’s a standard that they’d want to live up to,” Biden said of the need for more diversity. “It’s not a requirement of law. It’s a requirement I think of just some generic decency.”
That’s good stuff. We could have used more of it on Sunday.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Joe Biden’s Super Bowl pregame interview with Lester Holt went by fast
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism