Fox trolls Biden speech with banners, ‘live Tucker reaction’ cam

Tucker Carlson and his production team at Fox attempted to overshadow one of the most high profile government traditions in the U.S. — presidential primetime addresses — the night of March 11, 2021.

President Joe Biden’s camp announced the speech earlier in the day, which is the anniversary of the WHO declaring the coronavirus a global pandemic, indicating that he would address the nation at 8 p.m. eastern.

All major networks, including the Fox owned right leaning cable network Carlson appears on, carried it live.

Fox, however, opted to add in seemingly snarky comments in its lower thirds and even offered a live, audio-less look of Carlson’s reactions to what Biden was saying in a small box in the lower right of the screen during select portions of the speech.

Carlson opened his show at 8 p.m. eastern, giving a brief introduction before the network switched over to the feed from the White House about one minute later.

At 8:20 p.m., the network put up a banner proclaiming: “Tucker responds in the less than 60 seconds,” apparently going by the estimated 20 minute runtime the White House had given networks.

However, estimates being estimates, after it became clear that banner would become inaccurate, it was removed from air.

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Another banner around the same time read “Biden speech almost done; Tucker will respond” — presumably hoping to keep viewers hooked for analysis from one of its most conservative voices. 

Perhaps the most memorable banner came at 8:24 p.m. when the network popped up one of its infamous “Alert” banners that snarked: “Biden should be finished; Tucker is on any minute.”

Ironically, Fox’s use of its normal “Tucker Carlson Tonight” graphics during coverage caused a bit of an ironic result.

The network commonly runs the tagline “Standing Up for What’s Right” on the narrow horizontal band known internally as the “sliver” that’s part of its graphics packages during much of its primetime opinion programming — and it appeared on screen throughout Biden’s address, alternating with the “Tucker” logo. 

At times, it actually appeared on screen with nothing but the bug, ticker and locator right below Biden as he spoke, meaning someone taking a casual glance might have thought Fox was actually referring to Biden with the tagline.

Aside from the inaccurate claim that Tucker would begin in “less than 60 seconds” that was removed, none of the graphics the network ran were inaccurate.

Biden’s speech did run about four minutes longer than the White House advised. It started around 8:01 p.m. to allow networks a chance to open coverage and provide brief intros and ended at 8:25 p.m.

Timing of speeches is never perfect, and most of the major broadcast networks had coverage slated to end at 8:30 p.m., providing some wiggle room for the exact timing varying and post-speech reactions. 

That said, running over by four minutes in TV broadcasting would be akin to a mortal sin. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story briefly incorrectly listed the date of the address and Fox broadcast. It has been updated to reflect the correct March 11, 2021 date.