All of the major networks will carry President Trump’s address calling for a border wall on Tuesday night. But the moment he starts lying, they owe it to American viewers to cut away.
Bloomberg White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs tweeted Monday that all of the major networks — ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Fox News — will all be airing Trump’s Tuesday night speech live on Tuesday night.
LATEST: The networks are carrying Trump’s Oval Office prime time speech Tuesday night: CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 7, 2019
This is an obvious contradiction to networks’ previously stated policy when former President Barack Obama wanted to give an immigration speech focusing on Dreamers in 2014. Network executives chose to not carry the speech live, saying their decision was due to the speech being “overtly political.” Journalist Judd Legum tweeted that this amounted to “a total and humiliating capitation[sic] to a president with no interest in the truth.”
“The news media is supposed to inform the public. They are now being used to disseminate government propaganda,” Legum tweeted.
REMEMBER: When Obama wanted to address the nation on immigration, the networks refused to air it because they believe it would be "overtly political."
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) January 8, 2019
The decision to carry Trump’s speech will almost certainly result in Trump having a platform to spout lies live on the air. Even if networks do live fact-checking of his speech, it will be hard for them to keep up with the falsehoods that will likely be peppered throughout tonight’s presidential address. As USA Today’s Kurt Bardella wrote, Trump has made 7,645 “false or misleading claims” (lies) in 711 days as president. That amounts to 10.7 lies told per day.
And immigration, in particular, is something Trump frequently lies about. NBC News painstakingly combed through more than a dozen claims about immigration and crime and debunked claims Trump has made about the supposed “emergency” necessitating construction of a border wall. For example, while President Trump claims that a border wall would stop drugs from coming into the country, his own former chief of staff, John Kelly, said in a Congressional hearing that most of the illegal drugs making their way into the country came through official ports of entry, that are already heavily guarded.
Trump has also claimed that the border wall would prevent terrorists from entering the United States, saying that 4,000 terrorists have been taken into custody at the Southern border. However, this is also blatantly untrue, as only six people on federal terrorist watch lists have been apprehended at ports of entry, according to Customs and Border Protection data from May of 2018. And it’s worth noting that a 2014 Intercept investigation found that anyone can be put on a terror watch list for the most innocuous of reasons (like social media posts and travel to various countries), with no way to get off the list.
Another false claim about immigrants likely to make its way into Trump’s speech is that they spread disease and can make Americans sick by bringing illness across the border. A December 2018 report from the Johns Hopkins University School of Health found that not only do immigrants not bring disease into the country, but actually that a large portion of the immigrant population enters the healthcare workforce — effectively contributing to the cause of preventing, treating, and curing disease.
If President Trump makes one of these false claims or tells any other easily disproven lies in his address tonight, major media networks carrying the speech owe it to the millions of Americans watching to cut away, and tell their viewers why — their president is lying to them, and they won’t allow him to use their airwaves to deliberately deceive the public.