As Donald Trump addressed delegates at the Republican National Convention on Monday, CNN cut away from his speech, with anchor Anderson Cooper explaining that the president’s speech was “the most recent greatest hits and false statements.”
MSNBC and Fox News stayed with the address, the first appearance that Trump plans to make on each of the four days of the convention this week.
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The decision to cut away from Trump — as he made debunked claims of widespread mail-in voter fraud — comes amid questions of how CNN and other networks will handle fact-checking of Trump’s inaccurate statements as the convention proceeds in the primetime hours starting on Monday night.
Last week, CNN and MSNBC carried most of the Democratic National Convention pool feed with little interruption during the two hours per night of coverage, while Fox News went with Hannity during the first hour and with convention coverage in the second. That puts pressure on the networks to do the same for Republicans this week.
Already, Trump is blasting media outlets for not covering the main piece of business at the convention in Charlotte on Monday morning: the roll call of delegates. He called out CNN for not covering the delegate roll call vote, criticized MSNBC for going to a congressional hearing on the postal service, and chided Fox News for having anchors speaking during the tally.
He said that in his trip to Charlotte on Air Force One — which “has more televisions than any plane in history” — “I turned to CNN and they didn’t have this. Can you believe it? They didn’t have it. CNN didn’t have our roll call.”
He said that MSNBC — which he refers to as “MSDNC” — did carry it, but also showed the “very boring” post office hearing.
“Fox had it on, but unfortunately Fox wasn’t showing it too much because they had the announcers talking, talking talking.” So he said that he had to switch “over to C-SPAN or OAN or somebody.”
The outcome of the roll call, obviously, was not in doubt, save for casting aside long-simmering rumors that Trump would dump Mike Pence from the ticket for Nikki Haley as his running mate. Instead, Pence was present to deliver remarks to the delegates in Charlotte as well.
In his speech, Trump also went on extended riffs about his rival, Joe Biden, for now drawing the same level of enthusiasm from voters, while spending a great deal of time casting doubt on the legitimacy of large-scale mail-in voting in some states.
Originally, Trump planned a large-scale convention in Charlotte, then shifted plans to Jacksonville, FL, when North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, indicated that Republicans would have to scale back their plans. But then Trump canceled plans for a large-scale Jacksonville gathering as coronavirus cases began to rise again in that state.
Instead, Trump’s Monday appearance was before a greatly reduced number of party delegates, and in a ballroom, not an arena.
After CNN cut away from the speech, Cooper ran through a fact check of Trump’s remarks, saying that he “falsely accused Democrats of wanting to shut down the country to hurt the economy, and somehow help them at the ballot box. Unclear how angering the entire country by shutting down would help them at the ballot box.”
After MSNBC aired the entire speech, Chuck Todd said that what Trump delivered was a “grievance-filled informal acceptance speech” that was “filled with so many problems about mail-voting that if we were to air only the truthful parts, we probably could have only aired only a sentence, if that much.”
Trump seemed to relish the appearance, particularly a moment when those gathered began to chant “four more years.” “Now if you really want to drive them crazy, you say 12 more years,” he said.
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