Joe Biden has reportedly nixed the traditional pre-Super Bowl interview that presidents have granted since 2009, as the big game is set to be aired on Fox this weekend.
Or has he?
Granted, not every Super Bowl pre-game featured an interview from the sitting president. Trump did take a pass in 2018, when the game was hosted by NBC. But since Obama’s first term, every game but that one did include an interview with the president — including the remaining Trump years of 2017, 2019 and 2020.
The first president to speak to the media ahead of the Super Bowl on game day was George W. Bush who did a short, lighthearted interview with Jim Nance, SBNation noted.
Of course, the pre-game interview did not become an annual tradition until Barack Obama’s first term, when he had a sit-down interview with NBC. On the heels of that event, Obama granted a game-day interview throughout his two terms.
But this year, it appears that tradition is being broken.
“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 announced, according to Hollywood news agency Variety.
Variety added that White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre released a statement, saying, “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 cancelled.” Fox Soul is a streaming outlet operated by Fox New’s parent corporation.
Biden was angling to secure the interview with Fox Soul, which caters to a black audience, but his reps and Fox reportedly could not arrive at an agreement, Variety added.
Indeed, Fox noted that it intended to have one of its news anchors conduct the interview, instead of one of its opinion personalities such as Sean Hannity. Fox’s Bret Baier and Shannon Bream were expected to be top contenders to take on the talk with Biden.
On Friday, there was some confusion as to whether the Fox Soul interview might still take place. Variety ran a story headlined, “Biden Super Bowl Interview Will Take Place After All, With Streaming Outlet Fox Soul.”
CNN insisted the interview was a no-go, proclaiming, “White House says Fox canceled Biden’s Super Bowl interview. Fox says he’s still invited.”
Other outlets, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, played it safe with a “will-he-or-won’t-he” angle.
Neither the White House nor Fox reported any particular reason for Biden’s apparent refusal.
One of the reasons Donald Trump skipped the 2018 Super Bowl interview was his objection to the constant protests that had been occurring during the playing of the national anthem throughout the 2017 season. Trump had been a major critic of the protests against the country and had blasted those players who were taking a knee during the anthem.
Indeed, only some four months before the 2018 Super Bowl, Trump was still blasting the NFL and had called for the league to suspend the players who were taking a knee during the anthem.
“The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 10. “Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to do.”
Trump was still full of criticism for the kneelers late in November of 2020, when he tweeted a simple “No thanks” to the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day games and he cited the players who were disrespecting the country by kneeling during the anthem.
It might seem odd that Biden is pondering skipping this Super Bowl event, especially considering the fact the Philadelphia Eagles are set to play this year.
The Bidens — especially first lady Jill — are reportedly big Eagles fans, so skipping this interview would be a big deal. Though, Jill was ribbed as being a curse for another big Philadelphia team when the Phillies went to the World Series and lost last year.
Indeed, the last time the Eagles went to the Super Bowl was in 2018, when they faced the New England Patriots and defeated Tom Brady at Super Bowl LII.
The NFL’s Super Bowl has been the most-watched sporting event on TV for years, hovering around 100 million viewers for the last five years, except for 2021, when it only brought in 95.20 million fans. So, Fox is correct when they said that Biden could miss an opportunity to appear before the largest TV audience of the year.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.