Biden’s first 2024 national TV ad will run on Fox before GOP debate

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The Scoop

Fox News viewers tuning in to tonight’s Republican debate will also hear from an unexpected voice: Joe Biden.

The president’s reelection campaign has purchased airtime on Fox News, Semafor has learned, and plans to run its first national television advertisement of the 2024 cycle during the time slot directly before Wednesday’s 9 p.m. ET debate. Titled “Fought Back,” the ad highlights Biden’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the passage of infrastructure and semiconductor legislation. Fox prohibited candidates from purchasing ads during the actual debate.

The ad is part of a daylong effort aimed at getting the president’s message in front of a conservative audience — as well as needling the Republican presidential candidates. The Biden campaign also hopes to galvanize his supporters who may be tuning in: The campaign bought “Dark Brandon” display ads that ran on Fox News’ website in support of abortion rights on Wednesday. The Biden team also plastered ads on billboard screens around Milwaukee noting his positions on abortion, prescription drug costs, taxes, and Social Security.

Know More

Over the next several months, GOP presidential candidates will be pumping money into television ads in the early primary and battleground states. The Biden campaign has telegraphed that it does not want that message to go unanswered.

They have committed $25 million to compete for the airwaves and space in digital media over the next 16 weeks in key battleground states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Biden’s team has said that it is focused specifically on reaching Hispanic and Black potential voters with these ads, an acknowledgment that the president knows his path back to the White House relies on strong support from nonwhite voters. The Biden camp told CNN earlier this month that it will also air ads during major sporting events like the World Series and the NFL season kickoff, as well as on the streamers.

Max’s view

Trolling ads always come with some risk of alienating potential voters, and buying ads on Fox is going to frustrate some liberals. During the 2020 election, groups like left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters discouraged Democratic presidential candidates from appearing on Fox News, and expressed disappointment during Biden’s presidency with the decision from some administration officials to embrace the conservative news network.

But the campaign’s decision to plaster Fox News with Dark Brandon ads suggests that the effort is largely aimed at voters online who already support the president, and that the stunt would garner a decent amount of media attention on a day that Republicans control much of the message (ahem). Political ads this far out are often aimed more at soliciting campaign donations and voter information and keeping the base fired up. Wednesday’s Fox News digital takeover drove donations to the president’s reelection effort, a campaign source told Semafor.

And of course, Biden isn’t the only presidential candidate needling Fox News on debate day. Former President Donald Trump opted against participating in favor of sitting down with Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host who was fired by the network earlier this year.

Notable

  • As Semafor reported last month, the Biden team is working to address the fragmentation election by diversifying its media buying strategy during the 2024 cycle. Top Biden digital guru Rob Flaherty said that the campaign will purchase available ad space on the streaming platforms as well as traditional broadcast television ad space.

  • The decision by Biden’s campaign to advertise with Fox News comes even after revelations that Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch gave Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner access to Biden campaign ads before they aired during the 2020 election. The matter is the subject of a recent Federal Election Commission complaint that Media Matters filed against Fox Corp. and Murdoch.