CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all reported Donald J. Trump held a live news conference Thursday, the final day of his civil fraud trial, a stark reminder that the former president’s legal troubles offer a uniquely large media platform as he pursues the Republican nomination. ,
His appearance lasted only a few minutes, but viewers were treated to an unruly barrage of inflammatory and misleading comments, including Mr. Trump attacking President Biden as a “crooked” politician who “puts two sentences together.” Couldn’t add.”
Fraud allegations against a former president are undoubtedly newsworthy, but Mr. Trump has seized the legal proceedings as an opportunity to step into the media spotlight — a notable advantage over rivals such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. who may similarly struggle for air time.
Trump campaign allies were particularly pleased that CNN showed Mr. Trump live and allowed him to deliver his views to the American public without any mediation. This framing – on Mr Trump’s own terms, with TV cameras capturing his every word without real-time fact-checking – is exactly how Mr Trump and his allies envisage that they will respond to anything that happens during the election season. Can take advantage of criminal case.
For the news media, the episode highlighted the difficult choices facing journalists as the 2024 campaign begins with the Iowa caucuses on Monday: How to handle live coverage of Mr. Trump given his tendency to make baseless claims. .
“We just have to examine a lot of the facts — and prepare ourselves, because it’s going to take a moment,” CNN host Brianna Keillor said after airing Mr. Trump’s comments in full on her network. He and co-anchor, Boris Sanchez, spent several minutes rebutting several of Mr. Trump’s claims, which Mr. Sanchez described as “substantially false.”
Once Mr. Trump leaves the White House in 2021, it will become easier for TV producers to justify not showing his comments live. Even Fox News, which once helped cement Mr Trump’s position with the American right, refused to broadcast live interviews with the former president for nearly two years.
With Mr. Trump now leading in the polls for the Republican nomination, the networks have become more flexible: Fox News hosted Mr. Trump for a live town hall in Iowa on Wednesday. That event attracted 4.3 million live viewers, while the CNN debate between Mr. DeSantis and Ms. Haley, broadcast at the same time, was watched by 2.6 million people.
On Thursday, Fox News broadcast Mr Trump’s Manhattan news conference as it happened. Anchor John Roberts took the opportunity to recall Mr. Trump’s long and rambling presentations during his presidency and thought Thursday’s program “could be a harbinger of things to come.”
His co-anchor, Sandra Smith, reminded viewers that Mr. Trump was ordered to pay author E. Jean Carroll $5 million in a sexual assault and defamation case — despite Mr. Trump’s on-air claim that “I have no idea who this woman is.”
MSNBC took a more cautious approach. The cable channel, which is popular among liberals, turned on Mr Trump midway through his news conference as he began taking questions from reporters. The network aired his comments for about two minutes before cutting them off.
Mr Trump, a former reality TV star who is a master wielder of the medium, suggested in his remarks on Thursday that he knew the legal threat of his criminal proceedings could be turned into television gold.
“I want to go to all my tests,” he told reporters.
jonathan swann And maggie haberman Contributed to the reporting.