Monday afternoon the president announced on Twitter that he would be delivering a primetime address on the “humanitarian and national security crisis on our southern border.” If any past president had announced his plan to address the American people from the Oval Office — and many have, including Reagan and Obama — no one would have blinked. But this announcement was made by Donald Trump, and so the networks, Democratic leaders, and liberal entertainers feel impelled to behave as though they were just informed that the nation’s water supply had been poisoned.
The panic began with the networks themselves, which according to the New York Times were skittish about ceding primetime air to Trump:
Some journalists worry that handing Mr. Trump a chunk of network prime time could allow the president to assert falsehoods to tens of millions of viewers. … Declining Mr. Trump’s request could also open the networks to accusations of partisan bias. [Emphasis added]
Why the networks would suddenly concern themselves with accusations of bias here in the fake news era is hard to fathom, but ultimately ABC, CBS, and NBC capitulated.
The networks were not alone in responding inanely to the demand for airtime. CNN’s Don Lemon went so far as to suggest that Trump’s speech be delayed so it could be edited. The notion was so absurd that even normally unhinged colleague Chris Cuomo was taken aback.
UNBELIEVABLE: Don Lemon suggests that Trump's speech be delayed so it can be edited and kept from Americans.
Chris Cuomo (the voice of reason) corrects him and says wanting a border wall isn't immoral or wrong.
Cuomo giving Lemon a "you've lost your mind" stare is CLASSIC. pic.twitter.com/0nwI8BEssP
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) January 8, 2019
Eventually, CNN announced that it, too, would air the address, as would Fox News Channel.
The crisis, however, wasn’t quite over. The tag team of Schumer and Pelosi released a joint statement reading:
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. [Emphasis added]
Historically Oval Office addresses have gone without rebuttals from the opposition party. It is particularly ironic hearing this demand from Nancy Pelosi, who in an interview with CBS on Sunday said:
The impression you get from the president is that he would like not only to close government … but also abolish Congress, so the only voice that mattered was his own.” [Emphasis added]