Fox Says Biden’s Traditional Super Bowl Interview Is Back On Despite Confusion—But Not With Fox News

Topline

The Fox Corporation said Friday its pre-Super Bowl interview with President Joe Biden is moving forward, but the interview will be conducted by a streaming service rather than the conservative network Fox News, after both the White House and Fox indicated earlier in the day the traditional sit-down was being called off and pointed fingers for who was to blame.

Key Facts

Fox Corp.—the parent company of both Fox News and the Fox broadcast network, which is airing the Super Bowl—said in a statement that “FOX Soul looks forward to interviewing the President for Super Bowl Sunday.”

The decision indicates Fox accepted a White House offer for Biden to sit down with Fox Soul, a streaming service tailored to African American audiences, rather than with a Fox News anchor.

Variety first reported Friday the White House backed out of an interview with one of Fox News’ non-opinion anchors that an executive said would be “no strings attached,” but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted minutes later that Fox Corp. had called off an interview with the president.

Jean-Pierre said Biden was planning for an interview with Fox Soul to “discuss the Super Bowl, the State of the Union and critical issues impacting the everyday lives of Black Americans,” which the White House reportedly pushed for as a work-around that wouldn’t have required Biden to sit down with a Fox News anchor, given top Fox News personalities are often extremely critical of Biden.

The only other recent time a president canceled a pre-Super Bowl interview was in 2018, when former President Donald Trump refused to sit down with NBC amid ongoing feuds with the network’s coverage of his administration and the NFL for allowing players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence against Black Americans.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

Surprising Fact

Biden has not sat for an interview with Fox since taking office in January 2021. The network and the administration have regularly tussled, with Fox News’ conservative opinion hosts excoriating Biden while Fox News’ White House reporter Peter Doocy often spars with Jean-Pierre during press briefings.

Key Background

The presidential pre-game interview is a fairly new tradition, beginning when former President George W. Bush appeared with CBS’ Jim Nantz in 2004 and only taking place consistently since former President Barack Obama assumed office in 2009. Interview formats have differed over the years, with some live and some prerecorded, though they are typically cordial and involve soft questions about the Super Bowl along with questions about pressing political issues. Both CBS and NBC have relied on a mix of nightly news anchors and morning show hosts to carry out presidential Super Bowl interviews, while Fox—which rotates broadcasting duties with the other two networks—has instead pulled from its lineup of highly partisan conservative cable show hosts, which has led to tensions at times. Obama twice sat down for an interview with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly—once in 2011 and again in 2014—which were mostly innocuous but not without their contentious moments. Perhaps the most memorable exchange came in the 2014 sit-down, when Obama told O’Reilly he was misleading viewers by suggesting that the White House was not transparent about the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

What We Don’t Know

It’s not clear who Fox was planning to select to interview Biden.

Big Number

21.6 million. That’s how many viewers tuned in to the pre-game show the last time the Super Bowl aired on Fox. The Super Bowl is by far the most-viewed broadcast annually in the United States.

Further Reading

White House Nixes Super Bowl Interview With Fox News (Variety)

White House says Biden’s Super Bowl interview with Fox is off (CNN)


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