WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to sit down with the anchors of the five major U.S. news networks and PBS on Monday in separate one-on-one interviews.
The on-air appearances coincide with a heavy fall agenda for the president and Congress. Most lawmakers return to Washington from their summer recess on that day, which also falls on the eve of a nationally televised address Obama plans to make his case for military action on Syria.
Monday’s interviews, which will be taped that afternoon and broadcast on the networks’ nightly news, will serve as a stepping stone for the president to frame his arguments before the American people.
Although supported by leading lawmakers in both parties, the administration’s push for military intervention in Syria’s civil war has has hit pushback from significant numbers of Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress. Unofficial tallies by ABC News of members of Congress suggest that a resolution to strike against Syria’s Bashar Assad for the use of chemical weapons in that struggle would likely fail in at least the House of Representatives.
The Syria question is also shadowed by a docket of issues for Capitol Hill including showdowns on the national debt, federal budget, healthcare, and a possible curb on the government’s surveillance of millions of its citizens.
The Obama White House has not been shy about giving network interviews during his two terms, with the president and members of his cabinet offering appearances with increasing frequency during times of political expedience. But it has been an extreme rarity to meet with five networks at once. In September 2009, for example, Obama made a similar showing during a push for his signature healthcare legislation, although he avoided Fox in favor of Univision.