I don’t blame Biden but you can be sure that Fox News will weaponize his absence just as much as it would have weaponized any interview.
There's been a lot of confusion about whether President Joe Biden would or would not continue the tradition of a president being interviewed by the network hosting the Super Bowl, in this case Fox. But the final answer is, it's not happening.
Frankly, I can’t figure out who canceled on whom. But it seems pretty clear that Biden refused to be interviewed by any Fox News person and that the White House suggested an interview on Fox Soul with Mike Hill, a Fox Sports broadcaster, and Vivica A. Fox, an actress and Fox Soul host. Fox Soul, which I had never heard of before today, is a streaming service geared toward Blacks. Despite its relative obscurity, a White House official told The Daily Beast that the interview could have aired on any and all Fox platforms.
According to the The New York Times, the White House says Fox nixed it. Fox says there was “some initial confusion” and that Fox and Hill had already flown to Washington, D.C.
“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 Corporation had the interview canceled,” the White House said in a statement. “Fox has since put out a statement indicating the interview was rescheduled, which is inaccurate.”
Fox did not comment on Friday night. But a person familiar with its internal discussions said that senior leadership had simply been unaware of the prospective interview by Fox Soul. Once executives learned of the conversations between the White House and Fox Soul, they encouraged the interview to go forward, the person said.
My best guess is that Fox tried hardball tactics to get Biden to do an interview with one of its news anchors and when that failed, the network capitulated and, at that point, it was too late.
But really, it doesn’t matter who ultimately caused the interview to fall through. Frankly, I’m surprised there isn’t already a headline on FoxNews.com blasting Biden’s cowardice.
The mainstream media does their part
The Times, in its article, described the Fox Soul suggestion as “appear[ing] to be an effort by Mr. Biden’s aides to sidestep the news anchors on Fox News, but evade criticism for dodging an interview.”
The Times went on to suggest Biden was ducking legitimate questions. Any Fox News interview “would most likely have been conducted by a news anchor like Bret Baier or Martha MacCallum rather than an opinion host like [Tucker]. Carlson,” the article said. Apparently, The Times is either woefully ignorant or in denial about the fact that both Baier and MacCallum promote the same right-wing talking points as the opinion hosts, just in less inflammatory ways.
Not done sticking in the knife, The Times added:
Still, high-profile members of Mr. Biden’s cabinet have gone on Fox News in the past. Gene Sperling, a senior adviser, appeared on Ms. MacCallum’s program on Wednesday evening. Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, regularly appears on the network.
With all due respect to Sperling and Buttigieg, neither of them are as important to Fox News' unquenchable thirst for right-wing political power as Biden is. And you know that whichever Fox “news anchor” interviewed Biden, substantive policy questions about the debt ceiling, Ukraine or inflation would at best share the time with Hunter Biden’s laptop, suggestions that Biden is a Chinese agent, classified documents, and right-wing grievances such as “weaponization” of the Justice Department. And God knows what else.
Politico was no better. Today's Playbook opened with a paragraph about Biden’s “snub” of Fox. Then it spent seven of the next nine paragraphs suggesting he made a mistake. “Biden just passed up a critical opportunity to speak to millions of Americans who ignored his State of the Union but sure as hell won’t miss the Super Bowl — one that comes ahead of a likely 2024 reelection campaign launch,” it said. “And he should relish a chance to spar with his conservative critics, some Democrats would argue — much as he did during his speech Tuesday, where he parried lawmakers’ boos with quips that made him appear light on his feet.” This, of course, ignores the fact that no Fox News anchor would avoid the faux Fox scandals or that a Biden “parry” would only legitimize them and give the network material to replay them, ad nauseum, with the kind of rhetoric added that the “news” interviewer would avoid.
There was also the “this would be a serious news interview” fiction:
Yet it appears Biden wasn’t interested, despite reports suggesting that Fox News Channel anchor BRET BAIER, not a prime-time opinion-monger, would likely conduct the interview. In fact, unlike his Democratic predecessor BARACK OBAMA, who twice sat down for Super Bowl chats with firebrand commentator BILL O’REILLY, Biden hasn’t sat down with Fox News at all during his presidency.
Maybe Playbook hasn’t noticed but this is not Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News anymore, it’s MAGA’s Fox News.
Both publications noted that Donald Trump refused to do an NBC interview when that network aired the Super Bowl. But NBC News is nothing like Fox News. And Trump's scandals bear no comparison to the faux scandals Fox concocts about Biden.
Long-time readers will know I’m a believer in Democrats going on Fox News and forcefully countering their message, whatever it happens to be that day or that hour. But that doesn’t mean a president should do it. Biden will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t appear for a Fox interview. Yes, it would have been fun to see him smack down Baier or MacCallum or whomever. And, sure, he’ll have to confront the MAGA talking points some day, especially if he decides to run for re-election. But if this is not his jam right now, so be it.
(Biden image via screen grab)