Networks will air Trump's big border wall speech — but they are also giving Democrats equal time

Trump is going to deliver a primetime speech promoting his border wall on Tuesday evening

By Matthew Rozsa
January 8, 2019 3:33PM (UTC)
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Jerrold Nadler; Donald Trump; Nancy Pelosi (AP/Getty)

President Donald Trump will deliver his first Oval Office address on Tuesday night at 9 PM ET in order to promote his US-Mexico border wall.

ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS have all announced on Monday that they are going to cover Trump's speech as he delivers it live from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, according to CNN. The purpose of the address will be to promote his planned border wall between the United States and Mexico, characterize the issue of border security as a national security crisis and convince enough Americans to change their views on the subject that Trump can end the government shutdown by receiving border wall funding.


"I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern," Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded to the news about Trump's speech by demanding that Democratic Party leaders be given an equal amount of time to respond to what he says.

"Now that the television networks have decided to air the President's address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. The two have been promised equal air time on network television immediately after Trump's short satement on Tuesday.


Other Democrats have also expressed dismay with the networks' decision to provide Trump with wall-to-wall coverage for his immigration speech when they failed to do the same thing for President Barack Obama when he discussed immigration.

"If you listen carefully, you can hear network execs coming up with tortured, wholly unbelievable reasons for why they will air Trump’s speech tomorrow night when they deemed one from Obama too political and refused to carry," tweeted Democratic political strategist Adam Parkhomenko.

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau expressed a similar thought, tweeting that "they didn’t give Obama time in 2014 because they believed his speech about immigration would be 'overtly partisan.' So this should be a relatively easy decision."


Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather also drew a contrast between the media's treatment of Obama and its treatment of Trump, writing that "if you are a network executive, do you carry President Trump's speech tomorrow night live? Obama was denied network coverage for an immigration speech in 2014)"

Networks refused to run Obama’s 2014 prime time address on DACAout of fear it would be overtly partisan. 

Media Matters for America editor-at-large Parker Molloy wrote, "In 2014, the networks decided not to broadcast an Obama speech on immigration. In 2019, they’re all going to broadcast Trump’s speech on immigration. What would the conservative media response be if that were the other way around?"


Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert was equally blunt in his tweet, writing that "my network will be carrying Trump’s Wall speech live. So at 9pm Tuesday, tune into CBS to See B.S."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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