Both CNN and Fox News say they'll air President Trump's prime-time address to the country Tuesday evening, in which Trump says he'll talk about "the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border."
MSNBC is still thinking about what to do. And the broadcast networks—including ABC and CBS—are currently "deliberating."
With good reason.
Presidents don't automatically get the massive audience that comes with pre-empting network prime-time shows.
Generally, there has to be a very newsworthy reason. As others have pointed out, both President Obama and President Clinton had big prime-time addresses ignored by the networks when they were deemed insufficiently newsworthy. In fact, the Obama address that ABC, NBC, and CBS declined to air in 2014 was about immigration.
That's the same topic Trump says he plans to talk about Tuesday evening, and a subject on which he continues to lie repeatedly.
TV exec texts: "He calls us fake news all the time, but needs access to airwaves… If we give him the time, he'll deliver a fact-free screed without rebuttal. And if we don't give him the time, he'll call every network partisan. So we are damned if we do and damned if we don't."
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 7, 2019
Trump may intend to use the address to declare a "national emergency" over immigration, which he thinks would allow him to have the military build his wall. (A wall he's forced a government shutdown over, a wall he's repeatedly said Mexico will pay for...)
But by giving Trump free airtime to talk directly to the American people on an issue he continues to lie about, the networks would effectively be saying that Trump's thousands of lies are not a national emergency.