In July 2020, The Washington Post stated that Donald Trump had « made more than 20 000 false or misleading claims » during his four years in office. His last speech, which was broadcasted live on November 5th 2020, was no exception. However, the president’s live conference was interrupted by multiple US television networks including NBC, ABC and CBS.
« If you could take him out of my ear please. » This is what CNBC news anchor Shepard Smith said while he meticulously rebutted every single point made by the soon to be former president Donald Trump, many of which he called »categorically false. »
While the 45th American President expected a landslide win, the election was actually quiet close. He nonetheless called himself the winner on election night, despite the fact that the votes were at that time still being counted. The president did not hesitate to claim that the Democrats were committing voter fraud and trying to steal the election.
If you count the legal votes, I easily win, » Trump said. « If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. (…) They’re trying to steal an election. They’re trying to rig an election and we can’t let that happen.«
« OK, here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the president of the United States but correcting the president of the United States, » said MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, as the network quickly ended its live coverage 35 seconds into the president’s speech. This is actually not the first time this happens during Donald Trump’s four-year tenure. Last March, Business Insider reported that several TV networks had cut away from the White House coronavirus briefing, as Trump had contradicted his own health experts.
As a former reality TV star, Donald Trump is known for craving media attention and knew exactly how to get it. His ridiculously bold and childish tweets were extremely popular and circulated around news platforms. The media ate it up, whether that was to relay it as legitimate news, or to make fun of it. Some of this was due to the spikes in ratings and clicks this coverage brought, but during election night, President Trump had timed his speech for the evening newscasts, hoping to reach a large audience across the broadcast TV networks, and TV anchors were not willing to let this go on.
The cable news network MSNBC cut first, with the three big broadcast networks close behind, ABC cutting first, before CBS and NBC. CNN and Fox News were the only ones to let his speech run through, after which the president refused to answer any questions despite the many reporters who tried to challenge his unfounded statements. Despite CNN choosing to let the speech run through, the caption « WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE, TRUMP SAYS HE’S BEING CHEATED » could be seen below President Trump, as he spoke. Fox News on the other, simply displayed the following message : « TRUMP: ‘THEY’RE TRYING TO STEAL THE ELECTION.’ »
Other news outlets hurried to correct the situation. USA Today decided to take down the conference from its platforms a few hours later, stating « our job is to spread truth — not unfounded conspiracies ».