After President Donald Trump exploited the enormous free platform he was needlessly granted by America’s major television networks Tuesday night to deliver an immigration address replete with the same disinformation and dehumanizing rhetoric he has deployed since stepping foot on the campaign trail, critics denounced the corporate media’s continued role in amplifying Trump’s speeches despite knowing they will be full of harmful lies.
“Great job, networks. You are complicit in amplifying this absurd display of destructive disinformation and demagoguery. You knew this was coming, but acquiesced.”
—Greg Sargent, Washington Post
“Trump just launched his 2020 re-election campaign with, essentially, the same speech he used at Trump Tower in 2015, when he first ranted about Mexican rapists and murderers. And the media paid for it,” wrote progressive radio host Thom Hartmann, capping off his tweet with the hashtag #Suckers.
As some critics accused the corporate networks of getting “played” by Trump into airing the primetime speech—particularly after they refused to carry a 2014 immigration address by former President Barack Obama—Vox‘s Matt Yglesias argued that media executives are not being duped at all.
Rather, Yglesias wrote on Twitter, they are acting in a way that advances their material self-interest by pursuing whatever is best for ratings.
“The view that rich powerful media executives continually get ‘played’ like this seems to me to be a seriously weak analysis of the situation. They derive concrete material benefits from Republican Party election wins,” Yglesias noted.
As many were quick to point out, Trump used his primetime address to fundraise for his 2020 reelection campaign, firing off at least two emails soliciting donations to his so-called “Official Secure the Border Fund.”
“This was a campaign event disguised as a presidential message and the networks all fell for it,” noted Andrew Lawrence, a senior researcher with Media Matters for America.
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent—who predicted with “near-certainty” that Trump would use his speech to spew hateful lies—condemned America’s major television networks for carrying the president’s “absurd display of destructive disinformation and demagoguery.”
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