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10 Feb 2023
Christopher Cadelago

NextImg: Biden’s Super Bowl interview appears off — for good

America will have to settle for the Puppy Bowl.

Joe Biden’s planned interview ahead of the Super Bowl appears scuttled after Fox Corp. aggressively volleyed with the White House over an agreement to have the president sit down with Fox Soul, an obscure streaming service operated by a subsidiary.

Fox News originally appeared in line to land an interview with Biden out of a tradition between presidents and the network hosting the Super Bowl.

But brinkmanship between the president’s team and the media giant stretched for days and then hours heading into the weekend of the big game. It started Friday morning when the White House announced that an interview with Fox Soul — which came as a surprise to many — had been scrapped for good.

“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,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet. “We’ve been informed that Fox Corp. has asked for the interview to be cancelled.”

Hours later, Fox Corp. issued a statement citing “some initial confusion” the night before, but concluding that Fox Soul still looked forward to hosting the interview.

But by Friday evening — a point by which presidents and TV networks traditionally record Super Bowl interviews ahead of the Sunday program — a White House official informed POLITICO that nothing had changed since providing the earlier comments.

“FOX has since put out a statement indicating the interview was rescheduled, which is inaccurate,” the White House official said. While the person did not elaborate, Biden was not expected to conduct a Super Bowl interview of any kind.

The saga comes after initial talks fell apart between the White House and Fox News, the company’s highly-rated network. Earlier this week, a Fox anchor said the White House had ghosted the network. In the days that followed, Fox representatives confirmed that productive discussions were effectively over.

White House officials declined to provide specifics on why their outreach to Fox stopped. Fox’s Bret Baier was viewed as the most likely anchor from the news and conservative opinion network to land the president. Biden sat down in previous years with news anchors from NBC and CBS.

The decision not to have Biden tangle with one of Fox News’ top anchors means the White House was willing to sacrifice a massive pre-game audience on Sunday to which the president could share his message. But it also suggests the White House was unwilling to reward a network that houses prime-time hosts who mercilessly assail the administration and Democrats.

Instead, Biden’s team worked on landing an agreement with Fox Soul, a streaming outfit part of Fox’s TV stations division and geared toward a Black audience. White House officials had arranged for the interview to be conducted by Fox Sports host Mike Hill and actress Vivica A. Fox. Fox Soul general manager James DuBose had planned to produce the interview. All three flew Friday from Los Angeles to Washington for the interview.

The White House seeking out Fox Soul was seen as a way to have the president avoid appearing with a Fox News personality while still going through with an interview. Biden has yet to sit for an interview with Fox News, making a different calculation than his former boss, Barack Obama. While the Obama White House is remembered for icing Fox News journalists — leading other networks to offer their solidarity — Obama did sit for a pair of pre-game interviews with former Fox host Bill O’Reilly.