In My Opinion

Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Barack Obama must-see TV

 

bjackson@ MiamiHerald.com

Media musings on the Super Bowl and NBC’s Jonathan Martin interview:

• Fox will serve up something new (the first Super Bowl televised in Spanish, on Fox Deportes) and something unusual (a Super Bowl pre-game show originating from two states).

But the most intriguing element of Fox’s four-hour pregame show? It might be Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Barack Obama because we’re eager to see if O’Reilly treats Obama more respectfully than the last time they sat together for a pre-Super Bowl chat, in 2010.

That day, O’Reilly interrupted Obama 48 times in 15 minutes, or 3.2 per minute. It’s one thing to challenge the President; it’s another to not let him finish a thought. Sunday’s session, scheduled for 4:30 p.m., could be compelling television.

• Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long will anchor the first hour of Fox’s pre-game show (2 to 3 p.m.) from Times Square in Manhattan, then drive to New Jersey and host the final two hours (4 to 6 p.m.) from MetLife Stadium, where Michael Strahan will join them.

The 3 to 4 p.m. hour will include the often inane red-carpet celebrity interviews (handled by Strahan and Charissa Thompson), taped features and musical acts.

• The 2-3 p.m. hour features Bradshaw’s interview with Joe Namath and a look at some of the great football games in New York/New Jersey history, among other segments. A tribute to Pat Summerall, who died last year, will air in the 3 p.m. hour.

The Obama interview and Randy Moss’ conversation with Broncos receiver Wes Welker highlight the 4 p.m. hour.

• Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call their fourth Super Bowl together, with former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira available to discuss confusing or controversial calls.

• Why did Fox prematurely leave Erin Andrews’ postgame interview with fired-up Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman after the NFC Championship?

“I thought it was compelling television, but it started crossing over a line I didn’t want to see it go,” Fox coordinator producer Richie Zyontz said. “Erin Andrews handled it very well, but I said, ‘Let’s end this thing. It was starting to get a little dangerous for us.’”

• NBC commentator and former coach Tony Dungy is a supremely decent man, a pillar of integrity. But he’s not a journalist by trade and certainly not a seasoned interviewer.

And Dungy’s exclusive interview with Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was disappointing, because Martin offered few details and because Dungy failed to ask several questions that needed to be broached.

Among them: Who “maliciously” attacked Martin — an allegation made by his attorney — and why didn’t he report that to the team? Did Martin ever tell Richie Incognito to stop bullying him and if not, why not?

Who on the Dolphins bullied him besides Incognito? What about allegations that he was required to pay for a trip to Las Vegas that he didn’t take?

Did Incognito require linemen to attend meetings at strip clubs, as was reported? Did he send Incognito any vulgar text messages (Incognito’s attorney later said he did) and why did Martin do that?

Why did Martin not tell the team about the bullying but apparently had no issue with his associates leaking details, including one of Incognito’s offensive voicemails, to the media? And that’s just the start.

Meanwhile, Martin seemed excessively cautious and scripted. He offered no details about the nature of his harassment beyond saying they were of a “racial nature” and included “sexual comments” about his sister and mother. All of that had been previously reported.

Martin seemed most concerned with trying to sell himself to NFL teams.

“I know I would fit in any NFL locker-room,” he insisted. “I’m as physical and dedicated a competitor as anyone you’ll find. Teammates will say I’m a great locker-room guy. I’m a leader! Being a leader is part of who I am.”

He volunteered that he “loves” hostile road environments and “fans yelling obscenities at you.” Good to know!

The interview would have attracted more eyeballs if Martin had given it to Fox for the Super Bowl pre-game show.

But Martin was most comfortable telling his story to Dungy, a compassionate man who seemed more like a father figure than a reporter.

Read more Inside the NFL stories from the Miami Herald

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