Donald Trump made his big immigration address Tuesday night, but what he didn’t make was news—it was the same old series of lies. Nevertheless, the television networks dutifully covered it, giving Trump a platform they denied President Barack Obama for a 2014 immigration address even though he was planning a policy announcement, not simply a barrage of political attacks. In fact, even Trump himself seems to have known the whole thing was nonsense.
The New York Times reports that, at lunch with television anchors Tuesday, “he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas, but was talked into it by advisers.”
“It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,” Mr. Trump said of the border visit, according to one of the people, who was in the room. The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. “But,” he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, “these people behind you say it’s worth it.”
And yet even after top anchors heard directly from Trump how little importance he placed on the speech, the networks went through with it. Not one said “you know, we were going to run this speech, but Trump himself just told one of our people that he’s just going through the motions with it, so why would we give him the time?” The networks got played, but they were complicit every step of the way. As a result, any American trying to watch the major networks and news channels at 9 PM got an unadulterated feed of Trump lies. And the entire media will doubtless repeat the process for Trump’s “not going to change a damn thing” photo op at the border on Thursday—which is why Trump’s communications advisers “say it’s worth it.”