President Trump announced Monday via Twitter that he will deliver a primetime Oval Office address regarding support for the border wall. The address is set to air Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST.
The announcement quickly sparked debate as public figures weighed in on whether major news outlets can, in good conscience, air the address. Late Night host Seth Meyers joined the conversation, arguing that “just because Trump wants to address the nation, doesn’t mean that networks should air it. Otherwise, they’re just passing on his lies unfiltered.” The criticism arrives as the present government shutdown trudges into its third week, one of the longest shutdowns in American history.
Meyers goes on to dissect Trump’s frequent use of the word “crisis” to describe ongoing immigration tensions: “There’s no national security crisis at the border,” he says. “Trump and his aides keep repeating the debunked lie that terrorists are sneaking in from Mexico.” He then references recently debunked claims by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee that the majority of terrorists immigrate illegally into the U.S. through the “vulnerable” southern border. This statement was fact-checked and refuted by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, citing evidence from the State Department that these attempts happen overwhelmingly by air and not via the border.
Meyers often devotes Late Night’s “A Closer Look” segments to political discussion. He raises here an interesting question for consideration: In the name of credible journalism, do the very media outlets so frequently dismissed upon less favorable reporting as “fake news” owe the president a platform, or is it their duty to filter out rhetoric laced with harmful and unsupported allegations? Since the taping of Meyer’s show on Monday afternoon, NBC, CNN and CBS have all agreed to air the address.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, are insisting that equal airtime be granted to Democrats. “If past statements are any indication,” then Trump’s address “will be full of malice and misinformation,” they said in a joint press release. “Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime.” It should be noted that four years prior, an appeal from President Obama to speak on immigration policy concerns during primetime was refused by these same networks on the basis that his speech would be too “overtly political.”
Watch Meyers’ segment in full below.