Why CNN and MSNBC Didn’t Carry Trump’s Post-Arraignment Speech Live 

“There is a cost to us as a news organization to knowingly broadcast untrue things,” Rachel Maddow told MSNBC viewers. Meanwhile, on Fox, a chyron referred to President Joe Biden as a “wannabe dictator.” 
Former US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster New Jersey on...
Former US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey, on June 13, 2023.By ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

News networks had a marathon day of coverage on Tuesday around Donald Trump’s second arraignment. After the former president surrendered to federal authorities in Miami and pleaded not guilty to dozens of alleged crimes related to his mishandling of classified documents, cameras followed him to Versailles, a Cuban restaurant, where he was greeted by a crowd of supporters singing Happy Birthday to him on the eve of his 77th trip around the sun. By that point, Jake Tapper had had enough. “The folks in the Control Room: I don’t need to see any more of that. He’s trying to turn it into a spectacle, into a campaign ad—that is enough of that. We’ve seen it already,” the CNN anchor said in the middle of his afternoon broadcast, before turning back to CNN legal analyst Elie Honig about the 37 charges that Trump was facing. Tapper wasn’t the only one using their discretion in this way, as The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona noted: 

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As the Trump circus continued into Tuesday evening, so too did anchors’ decisive monitoring of their broadcasts. Neither CNN nor MSNBC carried Trump’s speech live from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he was holding the first fundraiser for his 2024 campaign. MSNBC anticipated that the address would be “essentially a Trump campaign speech,” just as his speech was following his first arraignment in April, Rachel Maddow explained to viewers as Trump began his public remarks. “Because of that, we do not intend to carry these remarks live. As we have said before in these circumstances, there is a cost to us as a news organization to knowingly broadcast untrue things,” said Maddow. “We are here to bring you the news. It hurts our ability to do that if we live broadcast what we fully expect in advance to be a litany of lies and false accusations—no matter who says them.” She added that “this is not a glib decision” and that MSNBC would “monitor the speech…if he says anything newsworthy, we promise we will turn that right around and bring it back to you.” On CNN, Anderson Cooper made a similar point, noting that CNN would monitor the rally for news and share anything noteworthy with viewers. Tapper said that they would not be carrying Trump’s remarks live “because frankly he says a lot of things that are not true and sometimes potentially dangerous.”

CNN’s Oliver Darcy, in his Reliable Sources newsletter, noted that the move “notably represented a departure from how the network handled Trump's post-New York arraignment speech. In that case, under former boss Chris Licht, CNN aired most of Trump's remarks.” I’m told that Licht, who left the network earlier this month following a disastrous Trump town hall and brutal Atlantic profile, saw Trump’s reaction as a key part of the story to cover and had communicated as much to staff. On Tuesday, though, anchors appeared newly empowered to do otherwise. 

Meanwhile, Fox News and Newsmax carried Trump’s speech live. A chyron on Fox claimed, “TRUMP’S REMARKS IGNORED BY OTHER NETWORKS,” and, before Trump began speaking, Fox News Tonight host Brian Kilmeade referred to Trump as the “president of the United States.” Later, airing footage of President Joe Biden speaking at the White House side-by-side Trump speaking at Bedminster, a Fox News chyron read: “WANNABE DICTATOR SPEAKS AT THE WHITE HOUSE AFTER HAVING HIS POLITICAL RIVAL ARRESTED.” Asked for comment, a Fox News spokesperson told Vanity Fair, “The chyron was taken down immediately and was addressed.”