After several days of back and forth, the White House finally confirmed late February 10 that President Joe Biden would not sit for an interview with Fox ahead of Fox Sports’ Super Bowl broadcast on Sunday. Before the White House’s confirmation, Fox hosts and guests attacked Biden for not committing to the interview — and the day after the Super Bowl, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins seemed to mirror some of these attacks, criticizing Biden for not participating.
Since 2004, presidents have frequently sat for pre-game interviews with the network broadcasting the Super Bowl. As reporting circulated over whether Biden would sit for the interview in the days leading up to the event, Fox hosts and guests expressed outrage that he might refuse it, suggesting the president was “gutless” and afraid to answer tough questions about “crime” and “Chinese spy balloons.”
On February 13, CNN This Morning co-anchor Kaitlan Collins — who formerly worked for conservative outlet The Daily Caller — seemed to agree with critics that it was “a missed opportunity for the president to reach millions of viewers” and mentioned that Biden “broke with tradition.” (The segment later mentioned that Biden is not the only president to not sit for an interview, noting that former President Donald Trump refused to grant NBC one ahead of Super Bowl LII in 2018.)
Collins’ comments, however, completely ignored both Fox’s history of weaponizing interviews with Democrats to push the network’s conservative agenda and the pattern of Fox hosts and guests already attacking Biden before the interview. If Biden did actually sit for the interview, Fox News would almost certainly exploit his appearance to bash Democrats and amplify conservative talking points, as Media Matters has repeatedly highlighted over the last few years.
Before Fox and the White House reached any agreement, the network’s personalities were already calling Biden “gutless” and saying he was “petrified” to answer questions about the Chinese spy balloon during the Super Bowl interview
- On February 10, Fox & Friends First co-host Todd Piro introduced a segment about the Super Bowl, saying he would rather ask Fox contributor Joe Concha about “the spread, who's going to win, all this other stuff” but instead had to discuss the fact that “President Biden has yet to commit to a Super Bowl interview on Fox.” In response, Concha claimed that Biden was “petrified” to face “questions that Americans want answered” about, among other things, “Chinese spy balloons.”
- Concha also mistakenly claimed that every president “for about two decades” had agreed to an interview with the network broadcasting the sporting event; Trump refused NBC’s interview request ahead of its coverage of Super Bowl LII in 2018.
- During the February 9 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity and guests, including Fox Across America host Jimmy Failla, called Biden “gutless” multiple times for not giving the interview. After Failla made a transphobic joke, Concha said that Biden is the “most protected president and the most handled president and the least accessible president that we’ve ever seen of the TV era. … For him not to do this right now, gutless is the word.”
- Fox & Friends personalities were bitter that Biden was reportedly not doing a Super Bowl interview, mentioning it repeatedly during segments criticizing Biden for his handling of the Chinese spy balloon.
- On February 9, co-host Steve Doocy criticized Biden for a lack of one-on-one interviews and joked that his son — Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy — would have to hunt the president down at the White House, while Brian Kilmeade lamented that it was a “tradition broken” for Biden to not give a Super Bowl interview (Biden had given at least two one-on-one interviews the week before the Super Bowl).
- On February 10, after Kilmeade bashed Biden for not “unifying the country to understand what kind of pressure we are under from China,” Doocy complained once again that Biden won’t give a Super Bowl interview.
- On February 10, after discussing how expensive Super Bowl tickets are this year, Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria guest host Jackie DeAngelis abruptly changed the subject to claim Biden was “not joining in to celebrate the Super Bowl” by not participating in the “tradition” of the pre-game interview.
Media Matters has repeatedly demonstrated that it’s never in Democrats’ best interest to play Fox’s game
- Multiple prime-time Fox personalities twisted Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s July 2022 Fox News Sunday appearance — which was generally lauded — to claim that he supports political violence and “domestic terrorism.”
- Buttigieg participated in multiple Fox News town halls when he was a Democratic presidential candidate. After at least two of them, both Fox personalities and the broader right-wing media used his answers to misinform their audiences about his policies and attack his answers.
- After then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participated in a Fox News town hall, Fox personalities were quick to bash him and fearmonger about his policies.