Don Lemon Questions Why Media Should Air Trump’s ‘Propaganda’ Address

Throughout Monday, there were debates going on amongst liberal media executives regarding whether or not to air President Trump’s address to the nation about border security Tuesday night. By the end of the day, the major cable news outlets, as well as all three network broadcasters, announced they would carry it. But during CNN Tonight, host Don Lemon wasn’t sure they should for fear of Trump.

Despite saying President Trump “should be given the bully pulpit, he owns it,” Lemon was concerned about letting America’s elected leader speak to the people. “But you're giving him the opportunity to speak to the United States unfettered—to speak to the people of the United States and this President has a problem with the truth,” he declared to Prime Time host Chris Cuomo as they were transitioning shows.

Shockingly, Cuomo was the voice of reason. “You let him speak, and then you hold him to account,” he began. “I think that's the right move. I know a lot of people are upset about it. I hear you. I read my Twitter feed. I get it. But I think it's also the right thing to do. And it’s the right thing to do to check him and that’s what we’ll do.”

But Lemon still had his doubts. His hang up? The people would believe what their President said:

Listen, I'm not saying that we shouldn't do it, but do you think it should be -- I don't know -- a delay of some sort, and then you can -- because people believe it. The President will say what he has to say. People will believe it whether the facts are true or not. I guess that's the chance you take with any president....But this one is different. And then by the time the rebuttals come on, we've already promoted propaganda possibly, unless he gets up there and tells the truth.

“He has his right to make the argument to the American people. And by the way, wanting barriers along the border is not propaganda,” Cuomo countered. “It's not immoral. It's not wrong.” To try to quell his colleague’s fears, Cuomo assured Lemon the media would take the time to fact check him.

 

 

Then, despite saying he didn’t want to limit the President, Lemon argued that “the strategy or whatever it is that you did in the past is different with this President … I just think you have to be more strategic and more responsible to the viewer with this administration…

Seemingly oblivious to a lot of CNN reporting regarding the Trump presidency, Lemon suggested, “We want to be accurate. We don't have to be first.” As part of that, Lemon wondered if the media should not cover the address until Trump says something “newsworthy”:

We can monitor what the President is saying, monitor what's being said in the briefing room. And then if it's newsworthy, if they're taking questions about a topic that's important, then we can get to that topic, we can go there. We can break in and say, “listen, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is taking questions about the border wall right now. Let's go.”

But if it's a political stunt, why do we even have to do it and, I don't know, just expose the viewer and the American people to propaganda,” Lemon argued.

Cuomo responded by asserting that the address played to a “disadvantage” for Trump and not an “advantage.” “They should hear from their elected leader why he is making Americans suffer,” he chided referring to the partial government shutdown.

While they noted that an Obama address in 2014 wasn’t aired live because the administration didn’t ask for airtime, Lemon would not make the same arguments if it was Democratic president requesting airtime.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN Tonight
January 7, 2019
10:01:09 p.m. Eastern

DON LEMON: But let's talk about news because you talked about the President's address that we're going to carry. It's tough, and this is, I think, maybe the first time -- I would imagine. Listen, I haven't been in news for that long, almost 30 years, but not that long. That network presidents and executives have to wonder should they carry it live, should they do a live fact-check. How do you handle this because you're giving the president of the United States -- which he should be given the bully pulpit, he owns it. But you're giving him the opportunity to speak to the United States unfettered—to speak to the people of the United State and this President has a problem with the truth. So what do you do?

CHRIS CUOMO: You let him speak, and then you hold him to account. You know, I'm old enough to remember, D. Lemon, back in 2014 when then-President Barack Obama --

LEMON: About executive action.

CUOMO: Yeah, but here was the difference. They were savvy. Axelrod, we'll have to talk to him about this. They didn't ask the networks for time. This time the White House has asked for time. So they made the decision, the broadcasts, not to carry President Obama talking about the 2014 executive actions. But he didn't ask for the time. So this time the White House did. He's getting the time. I think that's the right move. I know a lot of people are upset about it. I hear you. I read my Twitter feed. I get it. But I think it's also the right thing to do. And it’s the right thing to do to check him and that’s what we’ll do.

LEMON: Listen, I'm not saying that we shouldn't do it, but do you think it should be -- I don't know -- a delay of some sort, and then you can -- because people believe it. The President will say what he has to say. People will believe it whether the facts are true or not. I guess that's the chance you take with any president.

CUOMO: Yeah.

LEMON: But this one is different. And then by the time the rebuttals come on, we've already promoted propaganda possibly, unless he gets up there and tells the truth.

CUOMO: He has his right to make the argument to the American people. And by the way, wanting barriers along the border is not propaganda.

LEMON: No, no, no.

CUOMO: It's not immoral. It's not wrong.

LEMON: The facts about that, though, who wants it, who doesn't, how much it actually does protect. Like you said, it's not a panacea it's not a cure-all, there are other aspects, other technologies that go along with that.

CUOMO: 100 percent, and that's our job. I have no problem with this. I see no problem with this. I believe that fears of people saying that, you know, “you should limit the exposure of this president to the American people.” I dismiss that notion entirely. I think that is anathema to American political exchange.

LEMON: Wait, wait, wait.

CUOMO: I'm not saying you're calling for it. I'm saying when I hear it, that's what I think.

LEMON: No, I understand. I don't think limiting it. I do think -- and I said this before. I do think the strategy or whatever it is that you did in the past is different with this President because -- or this administration. They will call for a briefing or a press conference or whatever, and then not answer any questions and then just promote something politically, not take questions, and maybe at the last second, like he did with President Obama -- President Obama was not born in, you know, Africa, then he goes away and doesn't take any questions. Or like they did last week, the stunt in the briefing room.

I just think you have to be more strategic and more responsible to the viewer with this administration because it doesn't matter. We always say, it doesn't matter who's first. It matters who's accurate, right? If we get it right. I think we should apply the same parameters that we do with that. We want to be accurate. We don't have to be first. We can monitor what the President is saying, monitor what's being said in the briefing room. And then if it's newsworthy, if they're taking questions about a topic that's important, then we can get to that topic, we can go there. We can break in and say, “listen, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is taking questions about the border wall right now. Let's go.” But if it's a political stunt, why do we even have to do it and, I don't know, just expose the viewer and the American people to propaganda?

CUOMO: Let me give you a little different take for your audience. My feeling is this. This is the President playing to a disadvantage, not an advantage. This isn't a Twitter thread. This isn't some quip. This isn't any of the other manifestations of our political dialogue that you were discussing. This is him in real time, on live television, addressing the American people and making a case. He does it very rarely. And this is a tough case for him to make. And I think that this plays to his disadvantage, not to the disadvantage of the truth and not to the American people. They should hear from their elected leader why he is making Americans suffer.

LEMON: Yeah.

CUOMO: And after it, we will say what was right and what wasn't right.

(…)

NB Daily Censorship Events Government shutdown Immigration Bias by Omission Double Standards Cable Television CNN CNN Tonight Video Don Lemon Chris Cuomo Donald Trump

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