WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama sat for an extraordinarily rare TV interview in the White House Situation Room to air on the first anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, NBC said Friday.
NBC News scored the media coup, which comes as the White House touts the anniversary in a new campaign ad highlighting Obama’s approval of the operation — and questioning whether Republican rival Mitt Romney would have done the same.
On Friday, NBC described the access to the most secure part of the White House as “a first for network television,” adding that the president, his national security staff and military advisers relived key moments in the dramatic run-up to bin Laden’s demise.
“We want to present the definitive account of what took place leading up to and during the tension-filled hours of the mission targeting Osama bin Laden,” NBC News president Steve Capus said in a statement.
The interview was conducted Thursday and the special broadcast is due to air May 2.
The White House resisted questions about the anniversary, including whether it was politicizing the top-secret crisis center where Obama and his senior aides followed the raid one year ago.
“At this point, I’m not prepared to talk in detail about interviews that the president has conducted that haven’t aired yet,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
He said that over the past year, there had been “a lot of interest in that mission, how the decision was made to carry out that mission and what activities were involved in preparing our courageous men and women in uniform to undertake that mission successfully.”
Earnest could not confirm whether a president had ever sat for an interview in the Situation Room, and it was not immediately clear if that part of the White House has been filmed by media outlets or other outsiders.
The Situation Room was created in 1961 during John F. Kennedy’s administration to serve as a super-secure communications nerve center.
In 2007, it underwent a full renovation, and is now comprised of three conference rooms where some two dozen meetings are held each day, according to a video of the facility released by the White House.