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Journalist admits real reason Biden broke Super Bowl tradition, refused Fox interview: 'It's pretty tactical'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Journalist Ben Smith explained Monday that President Joe Biden skipped a Super Bowl Sunday interview with Fox to avoid being confronted about questions overshadowing his presidency.

What is the background?

Traditionally, the president sits down for an interview with the network airing the Super Bowl. This year, that was Fox Corporation.

So, to avoid a hard-hitting interview with Fox News anchors, the White House requested that Biden sit down with Fox Soul, a little-known digital streaming channel that would be more favorable to Biden. But the interview never happened, resulting in the White House blaming Fox for the snafu.

What did Smith say?

During an interview on "CNN This Morning," Smith was asked about the White House's decision not to go forward with an interview.

"I think it's pretty tactical," Smith said.

"I don’t think this was necessarily them trying to strike some big blow against Rupert Murdoch, although if that’s a side benefit, I’m sure they’re into it. But they had tried to go to a subsidiary Fox channel, Fox Soul, to have the actress Vivica Fox — no relation — interview the president. She’s a supporter of his. When that kind of hit a bump, they discarded the whole thing," he explained.

Ultimately, Smith said Biden refused the Fox interview to avoid answering questions about 2024 and the scandals that have rocked his presidency, most recently the Chinese spy balloon incident.

"I think, actually, mostly it’s about the timing," he said. "If you had an interview with Joe Biden, if I had an interview with Joe Biden, you’d say, ‘Are you running for re-election? What is going on with the balloons?’ I don't think he— I think he wants to answer both of those questions at sort of the time and place of his choosing, and it wasn’t yesterday."

Smith predicted Biden will only appear on Fox News when White House officials "see it to their tactical advantage."

What was the WH excuse?

Although the White House clearly tried to avoid Biden being grilled by a Fox News anchor, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that Fox Corp. had canceled the interview. But that was not true, Fox Corp. said.

Ultimately, the interview was never recorded, and the White House blamed Fox Corp. for that.

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