Major broadcast networks have agreed to provide coverage of President Donald Trump's prime time address on border security...
...but Democrats have a request of their own.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement that they should be given "equal airtime" to respond to whatever the president says.
"Now that the television networks have decided to air the President's address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime," Pelosi and Schumer said.
President Trump has the "power to stop hurting the country" by "ending the Trump Shutdown," they continued, referring to the government shutdown, now in its third week, which began after Trump disagreed with a Congressional decision regarding funding for his proposed border wall.
“Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans in Congress have repeatedly urged the President and Leader McConnell to end the Trump Shutdown and re-open the government while Congress debates the President’s expensive and ineffective wall," they said.
CBS has confirmed that Democrats have requested airtime; CNN has confirmed it will carry the Democratic response live.
It is not unusual for presidents to ask for airtime to make a formal address to the nation. However, this is Trump's first time doing it, and critics agree that he, given his history of lying, should be rigorously fact-checked.
“Trump is unlike any president that the country has ever had in the sense that he frequently and routinely says things that are untrue,” Mike Ananny, an expert in media and technology at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, told The Washington Post.
"The challenge that the media faces is you don’t want to give a platform to somebody who is known to lie a lot, but at the same time, this is still the president of the United States, who has a lot of power and continues to use that power. The challenge the press has is to call the president out for what I expect will be the lies he will tell, because he tells them all the time, and to call them out in real time.”
Washington Post fact checkers deduced that by the end of 2018, Trump had made 7,645 "false or misleading claims."
Many welcome the Democratic rebuttal and agree that the president needs to be held accountable while on the air.
The shutdown is the fourth longest in U.S. history, and the inauguration of the 116th Congress last week marks the first time ever that a federal shutdown will extend into two different Congresses. Last week, House Democrats passed a package that would fully reopen the parts of the federal government affected by the shutdown.
“On Day One of the new Congress, the House passed bipartisan legislation that honors our responsibility to protect the American people with funding for smart, effective border security solutions — just not the President’s wasteful and ineffective wall," Schumer and Pelosi added in their statement.
The president’s response to the shutdown has been widely criticized. He’s claimed since the shutdown, which kicked off last month after he declined to sign a stopgap funding bill because he disagreed with the decision of Congress not to provide the funding he’d requested for his proposed border wall, is a ploy orchestrated by Democrats.
Yesterday, the president sparked controversy after he claimed he “can relate” to federal workers going without their paychecks as a result of the government shutdown.
“I can relate,” the president told a reporter who asked him whether he can “relate to the pain of federal workers who can’t pay their bills.” He added: “And I’m sure that the people that are toward the receiving end will make adjustments, they always do. And they’ll make adjustments. People understand exactly what’s going on. Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing.”
The president has said that federal workers agree with his decision to shut down the government over border security, but that claim has been dismissed more than once.
Jacqueline Simon, policy director at the American Federation of Government Employees, says she hasn't spoken with anyone who says they agree with the shutdown.
“Certainly, no one has called me to say that and my phone never stops ringing,” she told Politico. “They’re terrified.”