Hardball: Diane Sawyer Quizzes Obama on the Super Bowl and Singing

According to Nightline co-anchor Juju Chang, Diane Sawyer's interview with the President on Thursday was "exclusive and candid." Although Sawyer didn't find time for questions about scandals such as Solyndra or Fast and Furious, she did manage to squeeze in queries about the Super Bowl and the President's singing.

At one point, the World News anchor enthused, "And speaking of sports teams, we asked the fan-in-chief, what is it, Giants/Pats?" After wasting one question on this topic, she followed-up: "Two years ago, we talked. You had the Saints [as Super Bowl winners]."

Sawyer chose to highlight video of the President singing an Al Green song. She joked, "A quick question about the family. Do they have you on their ringtone now, singing?"

The interviewed appeared in two, very similar forms, Thursday's World News and Nightline. The substantive questions Sawyer did ask were short and vague. On the 2012 election, she wondered, "Are you going to win?...How much do you want it?"

As though she were channeling Larry King, the journalist mused, "Watching the debates?" She did note that high unemployment makes "President Obama one of the most vulnerable incumbents in history." But Sawyer didn't challenge the President on this.

However, on the issue of taxes, she did mention Mitt Romney's criticism: "Governor Romney says this is class warfare and it is social engineering."

Sawyer did quiz Obama about his interaction with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and her tense meeting with Obama in Arizona last week: "What was going on there?...She's all over the airwaves right now." Oddly, this question was in the World News segment, but cut out of the longer Nightline version.

A transcript of the Nightline segment:


JUJU CHANG: For President Obama today, it was game on. He went to Las Vegas today, officially to give a speech about natural gas and jobs. But unofficially, he was anteing up to take on his Republican opponents in the high-stakes battle for the White House. While the President was on the road, he granted an exclusive and candid interview to ABC's Diane Sawyer.


DIANE SAWYER: If President Obama's polls signal he's in danger of losing the presidency, he signaled today, he's going to be fighting back. Are you gonna win?


SAWYER: How much do you want it?

OBAMA: Badly, because I think the country needs it.

MITT ROMNEY: That's simply inexcusable. That's inexcusable.

SAWYER: As the men vying to replace him battle it out in Florida-

NEWT GINGRICH: The governor has cheerfully been attacking me inaccurately and he knows it.

SAWYER- we met up with the President in Las Vegas, at UPS.

OBAMA: We've got to have an all-out, all-in, all of the above strategy that develops every source of American energy.

SAWYER: One of the plans he laid out in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

OBAMA: Pass clean energy tax credits, create these jobs.

SAWYER: But it was a moment just before the State of the Union-

OBAMA: Good job tonight. Good job tonight.

SAWYER: -that may have put him in such a good mood. The knowledge that, as he spoke, SEAL Team 6, the same elite Navy team unit that killed Osama bin Laden, had just performed yet another incredible military feat, rescuing that kidnapped American aid worker, Jessica Buchanan, from a gang of Somali thugs. He told me what it was like to deliver the good news to Jessica's father, just after the speech finished.

OBAMA: I cannot imagine what he went through, you know, given, you know, Malia and Sasha. And for him to be able to stay strong and then for, you know, our incredible men and women in uniform, to do what they do, it makes you proud about this country.

SAWYER: But despite praise for the raid, and what many see as a string of bold foreign policy decisions-

OBAMA: For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country.

SAWYER: -he President faces some daunting statistics at home, unemployment at a painfully high 8.5 percent. 61 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, numbers that make President Obama one of the most vulnerable incumbents in history.

SAWYER: Watching the debates?

OBAMA: You know, I don't watch the debates, I got to say. Now, I read the reports. And what I get a sense of is that whoever wins the Republican primary is going to be a standard-bearer for a vision of the country that I don't think reflects who we are.

SAWYER: We got a lot of questions after the State of the Union from our partners at Yahoo and they said the same thing. Why didn't this happen in the first three years? Why is he talking about this now?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, in the first three years, we did a whole lot, which is why we're in a position now to continue the growth. Look, the auto industry, which has now created 160,000 jobs and sees GM as the number one automaker in the world again, that didn't just happen by accident, Diane.

SAWYER: You don't second-guess yourself?

OBAMA: Oh, I second-guess myself constantly. You know, look, I make a mistake, you know, every hour, every day. You know, there are always things that you're learning in the job, and I have no doubt that I'm a better president now than the day I took office, just because you get more experience.

SAWYER: A key part of his message, the so-called Buffett Rule, named after billionaire investor, Warren Buffett. Revising the tax code so that the wealthiest Americans are taxed at the same rate as those who get a paycheck, like Buffett's secretary, who was a guest of the first lady at the State of the Union. Governor Romney says this is class warfare and it is social engineering.

OBAMA: The question to ask them is we now have the lowest tax rates in 50 years. Diane, we've got a test of Mr Romney or Mr Gingrich or Mr Santorum's theories. We tried it for ten years. It resulted in a huge crash that lost us the most jobs since the 1930s. And why we would want to adopt something that we just tried and did not work doesn't make sense.

SAWYER: A quick question about the family. Do they have you on their ringtone now, singing?

OBAMA: So in love with you.

SAWYER: Or were they embarrassed?

OBAMA: You know, I don't think they were embarrassed. I have, I'm sure done more embarrassing things for - to them than singing a little Al Green.

SAWYER: You told us before the first campaign that Sasha had said to you, are you going to be sad if you lose?

OBAMA: Fortunately, they don't spend too much time worrying about their daddy's job. They've got their own stuff to worry about, including, doing their homework, cleaning their room, and the state of their sports teams.

SAWYER: And speaking of sports teams, we asked the fan-in-chief, what is it, Giants/Pats?

OBAMA: I can't call it. I can't call it. When the Bears are not involved, I can't make predictions because I will get into trouble.

SAWYER: You went with your heart. Two years ago, we talked. You had the Saints.

OBAMA: I love what that team has meant to New Orleans. And I'm sure they're gonna get another chance.

SAWYER: Another chance, exactly what the President will be working for in the year to come. For "Nightline," I'm Diane Sawyer, in Las Vegas.

— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.