Lauer Beats Brian Williams to Super Bowl Obama Interview

by | February 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM | TV News

Matt Lauer (left) and Brian Williams (Photos: Getty Images)

Matt Lauer got the coveted assignment of interviewing President Obama before the Super Bowl on NBC, but an item in the New York Post says NBC News anchor Brian Williams coveted the interview too.

The item — which you can read here — says representatives of both NBC anchors were calling the White House asking if the President’s Press Office would push for each of them.

This televised pregame interview is a semi-tradition — a press op with the President that happens most of the time before the Super Bowl. Last year, Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Obama because the big game was on Fox.

It’s a high-profile assignment for any network news anchor and, as the Post item points out, Williams’ prime-time show “Rock Center” is struggling in the ratings, so the pregame appearance could have been a shot in the arm for him. On the other hand, his “Nightly News” is the top-rated network newscast.

For the record, NBC denied there was any rivalry for the interview between its two top male news stars.

Our take: We’ve always regarded this pre-Super Bowl interview in the same way we take in any of the pregame entertainment that fills the hours before the game between commercials. We’re sure the interview gets a decent viewership, but like all the other pregame activities, it’s more background noise than anything else. For the record, this year’s interview will be seen at around 4:30/3:30c Sunday on NBC.

By the time this interview comes on every year, we’re already impatient to get on with the game. Are you ready for some football? Yes!

“Rock Center” moves to a new night and time next week — watch this: