Just when you thought Fox couldn't put more super in their Super Bowl pre-game, they've gone and injected it with Fox News Channel coverage of the lead-up to the Super Tuesday primaries. What does this mean? Well, after a special edition of Fox News Sunday at 9am/ET, the network will officially begin Super Sunday programming that not only touches on the big game and its cultural significance but will also include live reports from the campaign trail. Fox News stalwart Shepard Smith will broadcast live from the game site in Arizona, while cohosts Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly hold down the fort at FNC's New York studio. TVGuide.com caught up with Hemmer right after he returned from Tuesday's primary in Florida to find out about this year's super pre-game coverage.
TVGuide.com: Why did Fox feel like it would be a good idea to mix politics with sports?
Bill Hemmer: This is the perfect storm. I don't know of an event where the fans are in their seats three hours before it starts. That's how large the Super Bowl is. It's the single greatest event America produces. It's uniquely American, just like this campaign. And we think you should put your television set on Fox starting Saturday, so you don't miss anything concerning these converging events. There's going to be a lot to cover. I'm wondering how we're going to fit all this in.
TVGuide.com: But Fox's pre-game programming runs all day.
Hemmer: Well, here's what you have: You have the premiere event, in the Super Bowl, set against the backdrop of the national discussion, which is the presidential campaign. I'm stunned by the number of people who are engaged in this campaign already. I'm a bit of a freak about politics and I think it's as close as we get to sports for those of us who cover news. There are winners and losers and strategies on both sides.
TVGuide.com: Having started your career as a sports anchor in Cincinnati, you're proof of a crossover.
Hemmer: I sure am. Sports and politics are connected in a substantial way for me.
TVGuide.com: The debates seem to be getting a lot of viewers, and record turnout has been reported in many of the early primaries. To what do you attribute all this interest?
Hemmer: I think there's a lot on the line. We have a situation where a sitting president is not eligible for the White House. You have a number of candidates. Still, today we have Romney, McCain, Huckabee, Obama and Clinton. That draws in large cross-sections of the public.
TVGuide.com: Well, it's officially a two-horse race for the Democratic nomination and it's basically down to McCain and Romney for the Republicans. You've been keeping a close eye on the race. Did you foresee things shaping up like this?
Hemmer: I don't think anyone would have been able to predict how this would shape up. They might've guessed, but I don't think anyone could've nailed down the nuance and the strategy involved. I was in Des Moines the night Mike Huckabee won. His campaign staff was calling all over town to get a stage for their candidate to stand on to make his victory speech. It was a stunner. I don't know anyone who could've predicted that.
TVGuide.com: Getting back to the Super Bowl, were you at all envious that Shepard got to go to Arizona for the game, while you and Megyn are stuck in the New York studio?
Hemmer: [Laughs] I've been to many Super Bowls and, frankly, I've been traveling so much that I'm OK staying back in New York. But as a huge football fan, this is one Super Bowl that every fan wants to see. You've got the possibility of 19 and 0. You've got the underdog New York Giants, who played the Patriots very well in the final game of the year. This could be one for the ages.
TVGuide.com: With the Patriots being on the verge of a historic feat, is Fox planning on focusing on that in their coverage or will it be more fair and balanced?
Hemmer: That's cute. But how can you avoid talking about what could be the first perfect season since 1972? We live in New York, though, and we're surrounded by Giants fans, and they will try to cloud our view of this game. They are very confident.
TVGuide.com: So who do you like: Giants or Patriots?
Hemmer: I don't have a dog in the hunt. If you could get my Cincinnati Bengals in the game, I would wager for you.
TVGuide.com: If we view American politics in a sporting sense, do you see this November's election shaping up to be the same sort of media pageant as the Super Bowl?
Hemmer: I think it will get even more attention, and justifiably so. We mention sports and politics and how people compete with one another — I remember a couple of weeks ago, Mitt Romney told me in New Hampshire that politics is for old guys. I asked him to explain that to me and he said, "This is sport for old guys. I can't throw a football like I used to. I can't run down a field the way I used to, but I can compete. I can run down the others on the campaign trail."
TVGuide.com: And I always thought golf was the sport for old guys.
Hemmer: You make a good point. That might be.
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