WASHINGTON — The White House and Fox Corp. are involved in a public spat over the terms of a traditional pre-show Super Bowl interview with President Joe Biden.
In the past 10 hours, the White House and Fox have issued a range of conflicting statements: the interview had been canceled; it was back on; it's no longer happening.
Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted shortly before noon that Biden "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 later said the interview was back on following "some initial confusion."
“After the White House reached out to FOX Soul Thursday evening, there was some initial confusion. FOX Soul looks forward to interviewing the President for Super Bowl Sunday,” a Fox Corporation spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson said the interview would be conducted by actress Vivica A. Fox, who’s the host of Fox Soul’s “Cocktails with Queens” and “Fox Soul’s Screening Room,” and Mike Hill, a Fox Soul personality and contributor and FS1 sportscaster.
But on Friday night the White House again said Fox had canceled the interview, adding that the company's latest statement was "inaccurate."
“As we said earlier, we had arranged an interview with FOX Sports Host Mike Hill & Vivica A. Fox with the President ahead of the Super Bowl and Fox Corp had the interview cancelled," a White House official said in a statement to NBC News. "FOX has since put out a statement indicating the interview was rescheduled, which is inaccurate.”
The Super Bowl presidential sit-down goes back decades, including under Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. The interview, which often touches on lighter topics suitable for a mass football audience, became a regular occurrence under then-President Barack Obama. Donald Trump also participated in the interview every year he was in office except 2018, when NBC was the host network for the game.
Fox is airing the 2023 Super Bowl, which takes place Sunday in Phoenix between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
Fox Soul, a streaming network within Fox Corp., is described on its website as “a new live and interactive streaming channel dedicated to the African American viewer. The programs aim to celebrate black culture and deal with real topics that impact the everyday lives of the black community through frank and insightful dialogue with local and national influencers.”
Biden previously sat for Super Bowl interviews in 2021 with CBS's Norah O'Donnell and in 2022 with NBC's Lester Holt.