President Trump announced on Monday morning that he would be addressing the nation on Tuesday evening concerning the southern border.
His announcement could include a declaration of national emergency for the immigration crisis at the border, which Trump claims would give him authorization to fully fund the border wall without congressional approval.
But—many major networks were debating whether they would even air his primetime speech.
“Should the TV networks air the president’s prime-time address Tuesday?” NBC News asked in a tweet.
They also ran a headline which read: “To air or not to air: Networks face pressure over broadcasting Trump’s immigration address.”
While the report mentions a number of networks privately decided to air President Trump’s speech tonight, coverage of the speech was in speculation after a debate circulated on social media.
From NBC News:
The decisions came after an afternoon of debate on social media about whether the networks should give Trump the requested airtime, and what precautions they should take about what he might say.
Adding an additional wrinkle, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement demanding equal television airtime to combat what they predicted would be a speech by Trump full of “malice and misinformation.”
According to the report, there is no formal policy which would require the airing of the primetime speech:
The four major networks have not had a consistent policy when it comes to airing presidential addresses on immigration. They aired President George W. Bush’s prime-time address on immigration in 2006, but did not air one by President Barack Obama in 2014.
The precedent set by not airing Obama’s addressed was seized upon by Democrats and liberal pundits who pointed to the decision as a rational for denying Trump airtime.
So… the debate was on.
CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted out: “I’m waiting to hear back from ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox broadcast about whether they will carry Trump’s prime time address tomorrow night. The networks don’t automatically say yes when a president asks for airtime.”
“This just in from a network source: ‘Time has been requested tomorrow night for 9p. Networks are deliberating,'” the CNN host added.
And, quoting an unidentified TV executive: “He calls us fake news all the time, but needs access to airwaves… If we give him the time, he’ll deliver a fact-free screed without rebuttal. And if we don’t give him the time, he’ll call every network partisan. So we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”
Several hours later, Stelter said CBS News was the first to confirm they would be airing the speech.
“Five hours since Trump announced his prime time address, and CBS is the only broadcaster that has committed to carrying it,” Stelter said. “The others are still deliberating.”
“Update to the update: NBC, ABC, and CBS will all carry Trump’s address Tuesday night,” Stelter continued. “Wall-to-wall coverage of his pro-wall speech. Hopefully surrounded by fact-checking.”