Monday, January 07, 2019


NBC reports:
President Donald Trump’s planned prime-time address on immigration Tuesday night has put the broadcast networks in a difficult — and familiar — position as they debate whether to carry the address live.

The White House has asked the broadcast networks to set aside at least eight minutes at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday for an Oval Office address in which Trump may declare a state of national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The four major networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox — ... 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 Obama speech should have been aired and this one should be aired.

There's a perception on the left that Trump administration lies are like horror-movie viruses -- even the slightest exposure is unsustainable and will cause a mass-casualty incident. That's based on two undeniable facts: Too many Trump campaign speeches in 2016 were aired at full length and with no context offered, and too many Trump surrogates, as well as the president himself, lie whenever they're in the vicinity of a microphone.

But this won't be an hour-long freeform rant with dozens of falsehoods and slanders to unpack. It will be a formal speech, quite possibly with text available in advance, and it may go on no longer than eight minutes. If TV news can't frame a broadcast of that with appropriate context and careful assessment of assertions, then everyone in the business should just quit broadcasting. It's not a tough challenge. And this is a presidential speech, not a random 10:30 A.M. interview of Kellyanne Conway -- if the speech is dishonest, the press (broadcast, print, and online) should devote far more time to unpacking it in the ensuing hours and days than is devoted to a random Conway lie-fest. In short: This will be toxic, but the media ought to be able to contain the virus.

I think a lot of people on the left worry that Trump will prevaricate his way to a significant change in public opinion if he manages to get the speech on broadcast TV -- however, I'm sensing that some of the people who worry about this are the same people who nod in agreement when smart folks like Brendan Nyhan and Matt Yglesias talk about "the Green Lantern theory" -- the belief (which Nyhan and Yglesias believe is false) that presidents can significantly alter the fate of certain policies either by buttonholing enough legislators or making enough public speeches. If you don't think Obama could magically change minds all across America with a prime-time address, why worry that Trump can?

Breaking news:

(UPDATE: All three networks are planning to air it.)

Relax. We'll survive this.

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