THIRD UPDATE, with White House comment: The on-again, off-again Joe Biden Super Bowl interview is now in doubt again.
The White House has not yet given official word as to whether it will agree to a sit down interview with President Joe Biden and Fox Soul, tied to Fox’s Super Bowl coverage on Sunday.
After White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had said that Fox Corp. had canceled a pre-scheduled interview with Fox Soul, one of its digital streaming channels, Fox Corp. put out a statement this afternoon indicating that it would be willing to do the interview after all. “Fox Soul looks forward to interviewing the President for Super Bowl Sunday,” Fox Corp. said in a statement.
But the White House has yet to say yes to the un-canceled interview — and now signs point to it not happening.
What is pretty clear from a new White House statement is that administration officials are miffed that the Fox Corp. statement made it seem that the interview was back on.
A White House official said, “As we said earlier, we had arranged an interview with Fox Sports Host Mike Hill and Vivica A. Fox with the President ahead of the Super Bowl and Fox Corp had the interview cancelled. Fox has since put out a statement indicating the interview was rescheduled, which is inaccurate.”
A spokesperson for Fox Soul said that their team arrived in Washington from Los Angeles today to do the interview, with further details to be determined. They include general manager James DuBose, who will serve as producer, and Fox and Hill, who is also a FS1 sportscaster.
Fox News, meanwhile, had sought an interview with one of its anchors, but that apparently is not happening.
SECOND UPDATE: President Joe Biden will do a sit-down interview tied to the Super Bowl, but it will be done by Fox Soul, and apparently not Fox News, according to parent company Fox Corp.
“After the White House reached out to Fox Soul Thursday evening, there was some initial confusion. Fox Soul looks forward to interviewing the President for Super Bowl Sunday,” Fox Corp. said in a statement on Friday. But the White House has not yet completely confirmed the interview, according to a source.
The White House had earlier said that they had already booked a Biden interview, reportedly with Fox Soul hosts Vivica A. Fox and Mike Hill, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had earlier said that they had been informed that the interview with Fox Soul had been canceled. Fox Soul is a digital channel owned by Fox Corp. that is aimed at a Black audience. It was launched in 2020 by the Fox TV stations group.
Fox News, a separate division of Fox Corp., had sought its own interview with Biden tied to the Super Bowl, but one of its executives told Variety earlier on Friday that the interview would not be happening. In past years, Fox News personalities have done the interview with Biden, but all week long there has been speculation as to whether the president would agree to a sit-down given the network’s schedule of conservative opinion hosts, including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, who regularly attack the administration. But Fox News had intended to have one of its news-side anchors do the interview.
Jean-Pierre did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The confusion surrounding the interview speaks to the stakes involved: The pre-game audience has topped 20 million in recent years, a reason that presidents have rarely passed up the exposure. Donald Trump declined an interview with NBC News in 2018, but otherwise did sit downs during his presidency, as did Barack Obama.
PREVIOUSLY: The White House said that President Joe Biden will not be doing a Super Bowl pre-game interview with Fox.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, “The President was looking forward to 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. We’ve been informed that Fox Corp. has asked for the interview to be canceled.”
Fox Soul is a Fox Corp. digital network aimed at a Black audience. But it appears that Fox News wanted an interview with one or more of its top personalities on Fox News, which is much more established and better known.
Variety, first to report that the interview was definitely off, quoted an unnamed Fox News executive as saying, “We offered an interview with our top news anchors with no strings attached — they’re walking away from a huge audience and it’s a major missed opportunity.”
Fox News and Fox Corp. did not respond to requests for comment.
Biden sat down for Super Bowl pre-game interviews with Lester Holt of NBC News in 2022 and Norah O’Donnell in 2021. While there has been a tradition of presidents sitting for news division interviews with the host network of the Super Bowl, dating back to Barack Obama’s chat with Matt Lauer in 2009, the practice has been broken. Donald Trump skipped the chance to sit down with NBC News in 2018.
First Lady Jill Biden, a Philadelphia Eagles fan, plans to attend the game, the president said in his State of the Union address.
PREVIOUSLY: With just a few days left, the White House has not said whether President Joe Biden will do a sit down interview with Fox as part of its Super Bowl pre-game coverage.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters today, “I don’t have anything to preview on Sunday.” No word from Fox News, which would conduct the interview for the broadcast network, either.
Obviously, time is running out, as Bret Baier noted during State of the Union coverage. “We are running out of days.”
Meanwhile, a pro-Joe Biden ad, timed for release after his State of the Union address, was spotted during Fox News’ The Five, which draws more viewers than any other cable news show. The spot was from Future Forward USA Action, one of the largest independent spending groups to back Biden in the 2020 presidential race, with donors to an affliated PAC including hedge fund managing director Stephen Mandel and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.
George W. Bush sat for an interview with Jim Nantz for CBS’s Super Bowl coverage in 2004. Five years later, Barack Obama did an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. That was the start of a tradition that has continued almost uninterrupted since then.
Donald Trump, though, skipped the 2018 pre-game interview when NBC was host. The reasons were not entirely clear. He had bashed the network as “fake news” — but he labeled many other outlets the same. But Trump returned the following year for a sit down with Margaret Brennan of Face the Nation.
Fox News is not exactly friendly territory for Biden, what with its continual stream of opinion programming missing few opportunities to attack him and his administration. Fox Nation, the network’s subscription streaming service, even featured a mock trial of the president’s son, Hunter Biden. During Tucker Carlson’s show on Tuesday, coming just before Biden’s State of the Union address, the chyron gave an update reading, “Mannequin President Has Left The White House.”
But Fox News has been prepared to send one of its news side personalities, like Bret Baier or Shannon Bream, to interview the president. That would be a change from the Obama years, when Bill O’Reilly, then its star primetime host, was dispatched to do interviews in 2011 and 2014. The last time that Fox had Super Bowl rights, 2020, the interview with Trump was done by Sean Hannity.
Since the State of the Union address, Biden has been traveling and touting his economic agenda, bolstered by a recent blockbuster jobs report and declining inflation. A Fox News interview could produce a gaffe or misstep that would overshadow that messaging, while the network has focused extensively on issues about immigration and the border. But the upside is a huge audience, even in the pre-game, which has topped 20 million viewers.
Biden sat down last year with Lester Holt for NBC’s Super Bowl coverage and, the year before that, Norah O’Donnell on CBS.
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