The White House has requested all major television networks provide wall-to-wall coverage of President Donald Trump’s prime time address on Tuesday. Define American and our supporters urgently call upon CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, to practice good, balanced journalism and #BoycottTrumpsAddress.
There is no indication that the speech will bring any new information regarding the facts on the ground. The Trump administration has been consistently spreading misinformation concerning the border, and the networks’ airing of this speech will simply exacerbate misconceptions about the facts on the ground and serve to further dehumanize immigrants, refugees, and those who support creating a welcoming nation.
News networks hold considerable power in shaping the American conscience. An NPR study showed that where Americans watch TV news is the best predictor of their feelings on immigration. Yet most news organizations continue to cover the government shutdown at the border by simply repeating a litany of President Trump’s arguments or focusing on the political score, providing no fact-based context for the discussion. Interrupting normal broadcasting to air a speech is a dramatic decision and provides millions of dollars’ worth of free air space to only one side of a debate, choosing sensationalism over balanced journalism.
In 2014, when President Barack Obama announced his executive actions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), one of the most significant announcements concerning immigration in his entire tenure, none of the major networks and CNN chose to air it live.
Instead of airing President Trump’s speech and perpetuating the false sense of emergency around what communities are facing in the southern border, journalists should focus on real stories of families impacted by the debate and center their coverage on the facts so the American public is informed not by politically-charged rhetoric but truth.