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Politics chat: Biden on Social Security; DeSantis' battle with Disney

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and one tradition is getting skipped this year. Typically, presidents sit down for an interview ahead of the big game, but it seems President Biden and the network airing this year's game, Fox, are at an impasse. And that's where we'll start with NPR White House correspondent Scott Detrow. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

RASCOE: So what is going on with the president and Fox?

DETROW: Well, we know it's not happening. There was a pretty public back-and-forth about this between the White House and Fox in recent days. There had apparently been talks about doing an interview with a Fox streaming service aimed at Black audiences called Fox Soul. But that fell through. And look. Like you said, this is a tradition that goes back to the beginning of the Obama administration. Fox News is, of course, a conservative outlet that's been pretty critical of Biden. I will point out that Obama did do a couple of interviews with Fox News when Fox had the Super Bowl when he was president. But look. I think this became more of a storyline because Biden just has not done as many interviews as other presidents have. I will point out he has yet to talk to NPR. Though Biden did do two TV interviews this week coming out of his State of the Union, which is a big change for him.

RASCOE: So, I mean, moving on to another topic, there's been more action by U.S. fighter jets this week. The White House says a U.S. fighter jet shot down what it calls a high-altitude object near Alaska Friday. And Canada says a U.S. jet downed another object yesterday over the Yukon. What is going on? Are there alien overlords on the way? I'm very concerned.

DETROW: Listen. I think you know I've always been a big UFO person.

RASCOE: Yes.

DETROW: These can legitimately be called UFOs. They're unidentified flying objects. So I'm going to say UFO as much as possible here.

RASCOE: OK (laughter).

DETROW: And it's going to be fine. But look. Seriously, though, remember, there was a lot of criticism from both parties about why the U.S. waited so long to shoot down the OG balloon, the initial Chinese spy balloon.

RASCOE: The big white balloon, yes.

DETROW: Right - that made its way all across the United States before it was shot down. Biden officials and the Pentagon said it was a safety issue and that they also got valuable intelligence from observing it. But suddenly, things are very different - much more aggressive approach. This latest one - the White House says the U.S. and Canada tracked this latest object for 24 hours before Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to shoot it down. Then last night, there was another issue. NORAD even sent another fighter jet to investigate yet another possible object over Montana. That turned out to be a false alarm. But something has changed here. We don't know why things are suddenly much more aggressive, whether it's a tactical change, whether there's political pressure. And very importantly, we do not know where these latest UFOs came from, what they were doing. So I think the broader question is just how many UFOs are flying over North America right now and for how long this has been going on.

RASCOE: And did you think you would be saying that today? Or, like...

DETROW: No, but I love to say it.

RASCOE: (Laughter). Yeah.

DETROW: I love to say it.

RASCOE: We don't usually get into county-level politics, but let's talk a bit about a change made to the local government around Disney World in Florida.

DETROW: Yeah. Florida's legislature essentially took away Disney's longstanding self-governance. It operated as basically its own county government. It's kind of oversimplifying a little bit, but that's what was going on. And now many of those local government aspects will be overseen by a board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This is the culmination of DeSantis attacking Disney for being too, quote, "woke" as part of a broader culture war battle that he has made a centerpiece of his time as governor. Remember, Disney had criticized changes that DeSantis pushed in schools related to sexual and gender education. When DeSantis won his second term by a wide margin, he declared Florida as the state woke goes to die. He is trying to follow through on that. He said this week that when it comes to Disney, there is a new sheriff in town. And DeSantis has been really aggressive about using his power to force changes on schools, colleges, even national organizations like the College Board's AP curriculums. So a lot of questions about what he does with Disney and whether or not voters will see that as an overreach for a pretty popular, longstanding national company.

RASCOE: That's NPR White House correspondent and NPR Politics Podcast host Scott Detrow. Thank you so much, Scott.

DETROW: Thanks. I'll take my tinfoil hat off and talk to you soon.

RASCOE: (laughter) OK. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.