Will Biden sit down with Fox?

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President JOE BIDEN on Tuesday will fulfill one press-engagement tradition when he sits down for a White House lunch with a select group of network television anchors hours before he delivers the State of the Union address that night.

But the administration appears to still be weighing whether to carry out another customary presidential interview: the sit-down with the network broadcasting the Super Bowl.

Last year, Biden spoke with NBC’s LESTER HOLT for an interview that ran during the network’s hours-long pregame show. And in 2021, he gave one of his first major sit-downs after taking office to NORAH O’DONNELL, whose network, CBS, broadcast the big game that year.

This year is trickier for one simple reason: Fox is carrying the Super Bowl.

Since taking office, Biden hasn’t done a formal interview with Fox News, as much as he seems to enjoy sparring with its White House correspondent, PETER DOOCY. And aides are weighing the opportunity costs of a sit-down with someone like BRET BAIER or NEIL CAVUTO — the upside of a massive audience against the possibility that the back-and-forth could be rough.

“It’s a close call. It’s a big audience to let go,” said DAVID AXELROD, a former senior adviser to President BARACK OBAMA, who sat for pregame interviews with former Fox host BILL O’REILLY in 2011 and again in 2014, both of which aired live from the White House. Biden’s aides, Axelrod said, “have to assess the interviewer and how they think the president will react to the interviewer. [Biden] can be good at these, or he can get pretty ornery, as he has with Doocy at times, which isn’t a good look.”

Obama’s first go-round with O’Reilly began with questions about the instability in Egypt and, overall, was only mildly contentious. The second, which occurred amid the GOP outcry over Benghazi, saw more intense sparring, as Obama twice suggested that the host and his network were irresponsibly misleading their audience.

In both instances, the administration’s calculation to grant the interview, Axlerod said, centered on aides’ confidence in Obama’s skill as a communicator and, to a lesser extent, his love of sports. “With all the divisions we have in our politics and our culture, one of the few things that doesn’t divide us is sports, so it was a great platform,” he said. “We had reasonable confidence that if it went in a difficult direction, our guy could manage. And also there was a certain degree of confidence that, because we’d agreed to the interview, it wouldn’t, that there’d be a baseline of decorum.”

Biden’s considerations this go around may be a bit different. For starters, at least one of the hosts who would have been a natural interviewer — CHRIS WALLACE — long ago left the network. Progressives, meanwhile, have grown more vocal in their desire to see Democratic lawmakers completely shun Fox, as a way to punish it for what they believe is overt disregard for actual news broadcasting.

Several Biden aides, including Transportation Secretary PETE BUTTIGIEG, communications director KATE BEDINGFIELD and economic adviser JARED BERNSTEIN, have appeared regularly on Fox News during the course of his presidency. And Biden himself at times has privately conveyed frustration over not having more supporters and aides appearing on television generally to speak on his behalf.

Still, the president did only seven network sit-downs himself last year. Even though Sunday’s audience could be significant – the last time Fox hosted the Super Bowl, in 2019, more than 21 million people tuned into the pregame show – circumstances may be such that the White House is disinclined to say yes to the usual gameday interview.

The game will come just days after Biden’s State of the Union, an opportunity for the president to address a massive audience on his own terms. Tough questions on subjects that animate Fox’s conservative audience — the persistent immigration issues at the southern border and the administration’s decision last week not to immediately shoot down a Chinese spy balloon discovered over the continental U.S. — could push Biden away from the economic themes he’s centering his speech around. And any missteps could curtail any positive polling bump from the speech or Biden’s travel Wednesday and Thursday to Madison, Wisc., and Tampa, Fla., respectively.

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This one is from Allie. Who was the first president to say the words, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” ahead of a Saturday Night Live episode?

(Answer at the bottom.)

NO SPOILERS, BIDEN!: The president just went and tweeted out the first part of his State of the Union speech today, posting a picture of the text in a black binder alongside a mug (coffee or tea, Joe???) and two chocolate chip cookies (one of which appears to have been bitten). And so now we know how the big speech will begin, with Biden welcoming the House speaker, vice president, first lady and second gentleman, members of Congress and his Cabinet, leaders of the military, and justices of the Supreme Court.

Is nothing sacred anymore?