President Donald Trump announced Monday in a tweet that he would be addressing the nation on Tuesday night regarding his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump’s announcement comes as his partial shutdown of the federal government stretches into a third week with no end in sight. The Trump administration is demanding $5 billion to fund the president’s wall and Democratic lawmakers have refused to grant his request.
Trump and his top officials have repeatedly misrepresented immigration policies and smeared immigrants in an attempt to justify the wall — including Trump’s questionable claim of a “crisis on our Southern Border,” which he has continued to repeat even though border-crossing attempts are at a historic low and have been in steady decline since 2000.
Nonetheless, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News have agreed to broadcast Trump’s speech on Tuesday night.
Former President Barack Obama requested and was denied air time from major broadcast networks for a 2014 address regarding executive actions on immigration because it was deemed “overtly political” and not a “bipartisan announcement.”
A television executive told CNN “we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t” about the decision to broadcast the president’s address.
TV exec texts: "He calls us fake news all the time, but needs access to airwaves… If we give him the time, he'll deliver a fact-free screed without rebuttal. And if we don't give him the time, he'll call every network partisan. So we are damned if we do and damned if we don't."
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 7, 2019
Of course, Trump was likely to continue attacking news outlets regardless of whether or not they aired his speech on Tuesday.
The Trump administration’s rhetoric about a “crisis at the border” was thrown into further doubt on Monday when NBC News reported that only six immigrants in a database of “known or suspected” terrorists have been caught trying to cross into the U.S. The White House had previously claimed that number was around 4,000.
However, the president is reportedly still considering declaring a national emergency at the Mexico border so he can obtain funding for his long-desired wall without having to go through Congress.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill without Trump’s wall funding that would have avoided a shutdown last month. But after pressure from conservative media, the president reversed course and decided he would not sign any spending bill that didn’t fund his border wall.
Upon taking control of the House last week, Democrats passed a spending bill that is nearly identical to the one that had passed the Senate unanimously before Trump changed his mind. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated he will no longer support the legislation he recently voted for.
Senate Democrats are now threatening to block any bills that are unrelated to reopening the government.
Trump has said the government shutdown could go on for months or over a year if he doesn’t get funding for his wall.