A nationally broadcast interview with the sitting President of the United States has been a budding pre-Super Bowl tradition, but President Donald Trump is bucking that trend in 2018 by turning down NBC’s request to sit down with him before Super Bowl 52.
A year ago, Trump sat down with Bill O’Reilly before Super Bowl 51, which was broadcast on FOX. Before that, Barack Obama did an interview before each Super Bowl during his presidency and George W. Bush did one in 2004.
On Jan. 19, Variety reported that the White House informed NBC News that Trump will not take part in the interview.
The reason for his decision has not officially been released by the White House, but it likely has to do with Trump’s ongoing feuds with NBC and the NFL.
NBC is part of the “fake news” sphere, according to Trump
When Trump released his “Fake News Awards” in January, NBC didn’t make the list. But it certainly isn’t a network with which he’s all that friendly.
Trump tweeted about the network “putting out so much Fake News” after firing Matt Lauer from The Today Show in November.
Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
The president has a much better relationship with FOX, a network he praises often, so it’s not surprising he was much more willing to sit down with O’Reilly a year ago.
Protests during the national anthem sparked a Trump vs. NFL battle
The rift between the president and the NFL dates back decades to when he was owner of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals. He even fronted a $1.76 billion lawsuit against the NFL, alleging it was a monopoly, but it got the USFL just $3.76 ... as in three dollars and 76 cents.
Even though I refused to pay a ridiculous price for the Buffalo Bills, I would have produced a winner. Now that won’t happen.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2014
But the most recent chapter has been his insistence that the NFL should force players to stand for the national anthem, and that player protests are the principle reason for dipping attendance and television ratings.
In September, Trump said that NFL owners who see players “disrespecting the flag” should say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.” Players around the league responded with massive amounts of protests during the national anthem in the game immediately after his comments.
An interview with NBC prior to Super Bowl 52 likely would’ve touched on his thoughts on the NFL and player protests, and by sitting out he can avoid that conversation altogether.