The resistance came from at least two networks that have previously been targets of the president’s anti-media rhetoric: CNN and MSNBC. In CNN’s case, the network cut away from the remarks to the customary panel of analysts that dissects a complicated policy change. According to host Jake Tapper, the White House tried to reel networks in by promising a policy change.
Instead, what viewers across the country got was a focused version of the speech Trump has been giving while stumping for candidates across the country ahead of the midterms, warning that Central American immigrants who are hundreds of miles — and weeks — away from reaching the country were “rushing the border.” He also said that law enforcement at the border should treat any rocks thrown at agents as “rifles.”
Tapper was having none of it.
“We brought out that speech live because we were told by the White House that the president would be introducing a new proposal, a new policy when it came to asylum. That's not actually what happened,” Tapper said shortly after CNN cut away from Trump. “That’s not the first time that this White House has not been honest, but it’s obviously very disappointing when we bring you the news because we were told the president was going to be presenting the policy and he just regurgitates the same speech he gives every night on the campaign trail.”
Trump has been leaning heavily into immigration and nationalism just days before the election, calling into question well-established legal principles such as granting citizenship to anyone born within the borders of the United States. And while doing so, he has played fast and loose with the truth, for instance claiming without evidence that Middle Eastern terrorists could be among the migrants moving through Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States to claim asylum.
Citing his record of untruths, MSNBC chose not to carry Trump’s remarks at all.
“Because he’s used immigration in blatantly political ways, and in an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to monitor those remarks, fact-check them against his rhetoric and record on immigration, and bring you the important news from them,” Nicolle Wallace, the host of “Deadline White House,” told viewers as Trump spoke.
The president’s favorite network, Fox News, carried the remarks and a subsequent exchange with reporters in their entirety. A spokesperson from Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether producers debated switching the president off.
Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times podcast “The Daily,” also announced that his show would be “playing down” Trump’s remarks.
“They are clearly not policy remarks or policy announcements,” tweeted Barbaro, whose podcast reaches millions of listeners monthly. “They are deliberate attempts to inflame the electorate before the midterms. Just happens to be from the White House.”
Recently, media outlets have taken heat from activists and journalists themselves for allegedly becoming the president’s bullhorn. But journalists from minority communities have pointed out that some Americans, especially those from marginalized communities, cannot pretend Trump’s words have no effect on them.
“Those directly affected by the pronouncements and policies of this administration can’t just ignore it,” Lulu Garcia-Navarro, host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” said in response to Barbaro. “There are no good answers here, but instead, let’s call it what it is. Pretending it is not there won’t make it go away.”
While Trump spoke, Garcia-Navarro later added: “Running these statements live and unfiltered is irresponsible.”