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In 2009, then-President Brack Obama started the tradition of sitting for a live TV interview during pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl. It’s conducted by the news division of whichever network is airing the game that year, and it’s been a staple of the event (for the most part) ever since.
Usually, the interviews aren’t particularly contentious, and are not expected to generate any bombshells—they’re just a chance for the Commander in Chief and the network’s news division to make a friendly appearance in front of tens of millions of viewers.
But as of this writing, President Joe Biden has not confirmed whether he will commit to showing up, and executives at Fox, this year’s SB broadcaster, are starting to believe he’s not going to.
Hey @PressSec the #SuperBowl is Sunday. Is @POTUS going to follow the long standing tradition of doing an interview with the host network?
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) February 9, 2023
All White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had to say to reporters Thursday was, “I don’t have anything to preview on Sunday.” (Can’t she ever say anything like a normal human being? Nobody asked for a preview. They asked quite clearly if Joe was doing the interview.)
A final decision has yet to be announced, and there is still a chance the conversation could take place. But executives at Fox News are proceeding as if it will not, according to the person familiar with the situation, given that the White House has declined to commit all week. Announcements about a Super Bowl interview with the president are usually finalized five or more days ahead of the event. [Emphasis mine.]
Fox Chief Political Correspondent Bret Baier and anchor Martha MacCallum discussed the situation during coverage of Tuesday’s State of the Union address:
We have formally asked for that interview, but we have not received an answer yet, whether they are going to officially do it or not. We are running out of days.
WATCH: Fox’s @BretBaier: “Every year, traditionally the network airing the SuperBowl gets an interview with @POTUS. We have formally asked for that interview but we have not received an answer yet whether they are going to do it or not. We’re running out of days.” #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/ptEgkA5IA6
— TV News Now (@TVNewsNow) February 8, 2023
The White House has not responded to any of Variety’s requests for comment and has not indicated any particular reason why the president has refused to commit so far. Is it because he’s afraid of Fox News, arguably the most powerful conservative outlet in the nation? Or is it because some of Biden’s past interviews have gone spectacularly wrong, like the one where Joe appeared to fall asleep while doing a sit-down with MSNBC, or when he declared “the pandemic is over” in a trainwreck of a 60 Minutes appearance?
BIDEN: "It's my intention to run again."
MSNBC: "Dr. Biden is for it?"
MSNBC: "Mr. President?"
BIDEN: "Dr. Biden thinks that uh, my wife thinks that uh, that I uh, that, that we're, that we're doing something very important."pic.twitter.com/lPVyEi2kv3
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) October 21, 2022
If Biden does indeed give Fox the cold shoulder and refuse to face the nation, he won’t be the first president to do so; his predecessor skipped one too:
President Trump in 2018 opted to forgo a sit down with NBC News and anchor Lester Holt. At the time, people familiar with discussions between NBC News and the White House believed President Trump wanted to avoid a conversation about criticism he had made of NFL players who had knelt “during the playing of the National Anthem to protest social injustice in the United States.”
It’s still possible he will change his mind and sit down with Fox before the big game (and make this story nothing more than a footnote), but there’s a better chance that Jill and his handlers won’t allow him to. It personally won’t lower my enjoyment of the Gridiron Classic—it will actually enhance it if I don’t have to listen to him yell any more—but it’s not a good look for a president to be scared to face a news network, and more importantly, the American people.
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