New York CNN Business  — 

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Fox News star and President Trump promoter Sean Hannity is about to have the biggest audience of his career.

And that’s a big deal not just for Hannity, but for all of Fox.

Hannity is interviewing Trump at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, continuing a tradition of presidential Super Bowl interviews that dates back to the Obama years. The interview will air during the Fox broadcast network’s Super Bowl pre-game show on Sunday afternoon.

The selection of Hannity is significant because most Super Bowl interviews with the president have been conducted by journalists.

Hannity sometimes says he’s a journalist when it’s convenient for him, but he is a right-wing talk show host with no formal journalism training who prides himself on being entertaining and loyal to the president.

He is a stark contrast to the news anchors at Fox, like Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, who regularly lobby for interviews with Trump, but rarely succeed.

It is unclear if Fox executives picked Hannity over the news anchors, or if Hannity was the only interviewer Trump was willing to sit down with.

Either way, it is a big moment for Hannity. On a good night, 3 or 4 million people tune in for his 9 p.m. show on Fox News. But his big Super Bowl Sunday sit-down with Trump – which will be airing in the 3 p.m. hour – will have a much bigger crowd.

The last time Fox aired the game, in 2017, Bill O’Reilly’s 4 p.m. hour interview with Trump averaged 12 million viewers. Last year’s POTUS interview on game day, in the 3 p.m. hour on CBS, averaged 8 million viewers, so that’s probably the fairer comparison.

The upshot: With more eyeballs comes more scrutiny. O’Reilly was three-quarters in with Trump, but Hannity is all the way in, and then some. Will Hannity’s pro-Trump propaganda be on display with a wider audience? Or will he do the right thing and ask the president some difficult questions?

“Fox’s message is clear”

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy writes: “The Trump-Hannity interview will almost certainly amount to a giant campaign ad for the president. Instead of flexing its (diminishing) news muscles and giving Bret Baier or Chris Wallace the opportunity to interview Trump, the network is letting Hannity lob softballs to him. I hope I’m wrong! But Hannity’s record speaks for itself.”

The professional Fox critics over at Media Matters weighed in on Friday.

“Fox’s message is clear: When the stakes are highest and the spotlight is brightest, the network produces right-wing propaganda, not journalism,” Matt Gertz wrote. “This would be an embarrassment for Fox if anyone there still had any capacity for embarrassment. But as we’ve seen, the network has long abandoned even the pretense that any rules apply to Hannity, its undisputed standard-bearer. He is the epitome of Fox’s news product, and so it is appropriate that he represent it to the world. Fox is Sean Hannity’s network, and it doesn’t care who knows it.”