President Donald Trump will get broadcast and cable network airtime for his speech Tuesday night on "the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border."
The 9 p.m. address could include the President asserting power to build his vaunted concrete/steel wall/fence without having to get the sign-off from Congress that is currently shutting down the government (day 17 and counting).
The President has signaled he could build the wall/Fence using emergency powers, so his use of "National Security crisis" in his tweet announcing the speech suggests he could go in that direction, or at least that could be the big foot he wants to apply to Congress via the nationally televised speech.
As of Tuesday morning (Jan. 8) CNN, NBC/MSNBC, Telemundo, Fox, ABC and CBS had all confirmed they were covering the address, with Stephen Colbert tweeting about his network's decision:
For its part, a source says NBC will be doing plenty of fact checking, on the broadcast network, on MSNBC and in real time on NBCNews.com.
The networks will also be covering a Democratic response to the President's speech. On its Web site, ABC was calling the speech a "PR blitz for border wall," so it is unclear whether that network will follow suit though with the others covering it is likely. A spokesperson was not available at press time.
Networks don't have to give up time for an Oval Office address, but they traditionally have done so when the President requests it.
Trump foes CREDO Action was not happy with the networks' decision, to put it mildly, and fact-checking wasn't going to cut it. "Since he announced his candidacy, Donald Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to terrify Americans into supporting his racist agenda. Corporate media has been his willing partner every step of the way," said CREDO Action co-director Heidi Hess. "By broadcasting a live speech they know will be riddled with lies, fearmongering and racism, every network is doing a disservice not only to viewers but to our values and our democracy. Analyzing the speech and broadcasting the Democratic response are insufficient. The fact is, many people who watch Trump's speech tonight will end up believing things that are not true. Enabling Trump's racism and pathological lying by broadcasting his speech live is a failure of journalism."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.