Broadcasters pick up Trump campaign announcement

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When Donald Trump announced on Tuesday night that he would run for the White House again — a rare occurrence for a former president to seek his old job — the country’s three major broadcasters opted not to broadcast his speech live.

ABC, NBC, and CBS all decided to stick with previously planned entertainment programs — reality show Bachelor in Paradise on ABC, sci-fi drama La Brea on NBC, and a fictional show about the FBI on CBS.

On cable television, Fox News Channel broadcast most of the speech live, while CNN broadcast the first 25 minutes before returning to a panel discussion after Trump formally announced his 2024 candidacy. However, MSNBC chose not to air the speech, choosing instead to stick with Alex Wagner’s 9 p.m. show.

Former President Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential race on November 15 in Mar-a-Lago. (Video: The Washington Post)

Fox’s decision to deliver the speech is notable considering several network commentators last week expressed a clear preference for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the Republican flag-bearer for 2024 after the party lost in the midterm elections had done disappointingly. Two other objects in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, also signaled a preference for DeSantis last week, with the Post calling him “DeFUTURE” on the tabloid’s cover and the Journal’s editorial board declaring “Trump Is the Republican Party’s biggest loser.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, CNN was frequently criticized for giving Trump speeches a lot of airtime. The new head of the network, Chris Licht, told employees on Tuesday that reporting decisions about Trump as a candidate would be made on a case-by-case basis.

While ABC, NBC and CBS did not preempt the prime-time show to air the speech, all stations had correspondents based in Mar-a-Lago who covered the announcement earlier in the evening during the nightly newscasts hosted by David Muir, Lester Holt and Norah O’Donnell.

Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Trump, told conservative broadcaster Real America’s Voice earlier in the evening that such a decision would amount to censorship. “They don’t want the American people to hear directly from the greatest leader of the greatest political movement in our history, so I suspect they’re going to try to censor and cut off,” she said.

Fox host Sean Hannity, who informally advised the former president during his years in the White House, said on his prime-time show Tuesday that Trump was “making a mark” by announcing his 2024 campaign so early. “I’m watching this President at this hour and I see a guy who looks like he’s absolutely focused,” the host told viewers.

Fox News anchor Pete Hegseth declared during a break in live coverage that Trump was “in the best shape you’ve ever seen him,” while former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee described the speech as ” perfect” and described Trump as unbeatable “if he keeps it up tonight.”

On CNN, two former Trump aides sharply criticized the speech. Mick Mulvaney, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, called him “the only Republican who could lose” in 2024, while former communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin said Trump was “utterly incapable of ever being in office again.”

However, neither Fox nor CNN broadcast the entire speech. As Trump spoke about what he called the “huge problem” of transgender athletes, CNN host Anderson Cooper had focused on coverage of a missile that killed two people in Poland.

Fox also cut it, and when Trump’s speech ended after just over an hour, at 10 p.m. presenter Laura Ingraham instead received comment from Hoover Institution staffer Victor Davis Hanson.

About Gloria Skelton

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