Broadcast networks and cable channels set to air Trump’s prime time immigration address
Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
Published at | Updated at
(CNN) — The major television networks will provide wall-to-wall coverage of President Donald Trump’s prime-time address on border security on Tuesday.
NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox broadcast network all said on Monday that they had agreed to the White House’s request for airtime.
CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will all carry the address live, as well.
Presidents have been using Oval Office addresses to make big announcements for decades. But this is Trump’s first time using the setting for an address to the nation. On Monday the White House requested airtime for the speech, as is customary in the relationship between a president and the press.
But for a few hours, it was unclear what the networks would do.
Trump announced his plan for the 9 p.m. ET Tuesday address via Twitter. In his tweet, he characterized the situation on the border as a “national security crisis,” a description that even some people in his own party reject.
In response, a broadcast network executive said: “Time has been requested for 9 p.m. Networks are deliberating.”
The broadcasters have been known to resist presidential requests for airtime for a variety of reasons, including the perceived urgency of the subject and the popularity of the shows that would be interrupted.
Many Trump critics posted messages on social media urging the networks not to air an address that could be filled with falsehoods. Some said that a prominent Democrat should be given equal time. It is unclear if any sort of Democratic rebuttal is in the works.
With all that in mind, network newsrooms were abuzz with speculation about what the broadcasters would decide.
CBS was the first of the broadcasters to say it would go ahead and carry the address. Then NBC, ABC, and Fox broadcast network said the same. There’s no word on a decision from PBS yet.
There is a precedent for broadcast networks declining to air a presidential speech. In 2014, ABC, NBC, and CBS declined to carry an address delivered by President Barack Obama on immigration, though Obama’s White House never formally requested time after it was determined networks would be reluctant to agree to broadcast it.
Trump’s Monday request for networks to air his speech touched on a number of debates that have been raging in journalism since his ascension to the Oval Office.
There has been a recent debate in journalism circles about whether networks should air Trump’s words in real-time. Several media critics, for instance, told CNN last week that networks should not rush to air Trump’s remarks made during pool sprays and briefings.
“Some advice — demand to see the text in advance and if it is not truthful either don’t air it or fact check it live on lower third,” tweeted Joe Lockhart, the former White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton. “And cut away if he goes off text and starts lying.”