When “an exclusive sit-down interview” with President Barack Obama conducted by Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace airs on April 10, it will not only be the first time the Democratic White House occupant has appeared on the weekly program since he was a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, it will also commemorate the 20th anniversary of the hour-long show, which first aired on April 28, 1996.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated on Wednesday that the two-term president is “looking forward” to “a thoughtful and serious” conversation at the University of Chicago Law School about the issues facing the country, especially his choice of Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.
During a press conference, CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller asked Earnest why Obama was just now appearing on the Sunday show.
The president is looking forward to it, and I think any time that the president is doing an interview with a television program that he hasn’t done an interview with for a while, it’s an opportunity to reach to a new audience.
Or at least an audience that may not have heard from the president directly in a while.
“So it seems like a particularly good opportunity to make a strong case that the United States Congress should fulfill their constitutional responsibility to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court,” he stated.
“As Mr. Wallace, I think, would point out to you, his audience is not just Fox News viewers but is also Fox Broadcast viewers,” Earnest continued.
“Obviously,” he noted, “Mr. Wallace has a well-established reputation for asking tough questions, so I don’t think anybody is expecting a softball interview here, but I also think that there are some important issues to talk about.”
“The president is certainly looking forward to a thoughtful and serious conversation about some of these important issues,” Earnest continued, and he expected that “the Supreme Court will be at the top of that list.”
The interview will be presented on Fox Broadcasting (check local listings) and on the Fox News Channel at 2 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. ET.
According to a press release from Fox News, “Chris Wallace previously interviewed Obama in 2009 and 2013” for the cable channel and “in 2008 for Fox News Sunday when he was a senator and presidential candidate.”
In addition, the president was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor host, prior to the 2014 Super Bowl, and he was part of a Fox News program entitled “Destiny and Power – The Private Diaries of George Herbert Walker Bush.”
During that 2015 program, Obama described Bush as “one of the most underrated presidents that we’ve ever had.”
The first host of Fox News Sunday was conservative commentator and journalist Tony Snow, who served as its anchor for seven years before succumbing to colon cancer in 2008.
With more than 50 years of broadcast experience, the release noted, “current host Chris Wallace has anchored the show for 12 years and most recently co-moderated the three Fox News Channel presidential debates,” alongside Special Report anchor Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly of The Kelly File.
“The August 6 debate, with 24 million viewers, was the most-watched non-sports cable telecast of all time,” the statement indicated.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News Sunday is delivering its highest-rated year ever in total viewers in the history of the show and is up the most out of all Sunday public affairs programs with total viewers (up 28 percent).
The release also stated:
In addition, Wallace has interviewed numerous political heavyweights and newsmakers, including former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, then-Vice President-elect Joe Biden, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
A top five cable network, the Fox News Channel has been the most-watched cable news outlet in the country for more than 14 years, and according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, is the most trusted television news source in the country.
“Owned by 21st Century Fox, FNC is available in more than 90 million homes and dominates the cable news landscape, routinely notching the top 10 programs in the genre,” the statement concluded.
It will definitely be interesting to determine the impact this interview will have on the show's already high ratings. Perhaps it will set yet another record for the popular cable news channel.