CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox News all refused to air Biden’s prime-time speech attacking MAGA Republicans and Donald Trump because it was too ‘political’ and close to midterms.
Biden’s speech was carried live on CNN and MSNBC.
People involved in negotiations over Biden’s Thursday address in Philadelphia told the Washington Post the networks deemed the remarks ‘political’ in nature and opted not to televise it as it came two months before midterm elections.
Instead, CBS aired a rerun of Young Sheldon, NBC broadcasted a rerun of Law and Order, ABC aired its Press Your Luck game show, and Fox News, the most-watched cable news channel, aired its latest episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight.
In his divisive speech, Biden attacked Trump and berated those who support the former president.
‘Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represented extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,’ Biden.
Historically, presidents rarely make speeches during prime-time TV hours, only doing so when in times of national crisis.
When it does occur, the networks typically comply and present the speech to ensure that as many Americans as possible receive the president’s message, however, the media outlets have passed on speeches that get too political.
NBC and CBS both passed on Barack Obama’s prime-time speech in 2014 over immigration reform.
And networks appeared not to take the bait this time around after White officials tried to sell them on Thursday’s speech, with one telling NBC News that it was ‘not a speech about a particular politician or even about a particular political party,’ the Post reported.
In his Thursday speech, Biden called Trump a ‘threat to the country’ in remarks that contained his harshest rhetoric to date about his predecessor in the Oval Office and the MAGA movement.
‘Equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise,’ Biden declared at the top of his remarks before Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
‘And that is a threat to this country,’ he added. ‘Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.’
The White House said ahead of Biden’s remarks that the speech was not political. But questions were raised about the appropriateness of the administration bringing two Marines to stand behind the president during his remarks, which contained repeated attacks on Trump, who is Biden’s potential opponent in the 2024 election.
After receiving heavy backlash over the speech, Biden attempted to walk back his comments the following day.
Biden backed off and toned down his tough talk on Friday, defending supporters of the former president. In response to a question after an event on federal manufacturing grants, Biden said Trump supporters weren’t voting for violence.
‘When people voted for Donald Trump – and support him now – they weren’t voting for attacking the capital. They weren’t voting for overruling the election. They were going for a philosophy he put forward.’
‘I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence, fails to condemn violence when it’s used, refuses to acknowledge an election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which the rules and we count votes, that is a threat to democracy. Democracy. And everything we stand for, everything we stand for, rests on the platform of democracy,’ he said.
Trump took to his Truth Social account to slam the ‘awkward and angry’ speech outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia – and called on someone to explain to his successor what MAGA means, ‘slowly but passionately’.
‘Someone should explain to Joe Biden, slowly but passionately, that MAGA means, as powerfully as mere words can get, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!,’ he wrote.
‘If he doesn’t want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn’t, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!
‘If you look at the words and meaning of the awkward and angry Biden speech tonight, he threatened America, including with the possible use of military force. He must be insane, or suffering from late-stage dementia!’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the speech was about ‘standing up for democracy’ and ‘denouncing political violence.’
She said that talking about ‘the challenges facing the nation is not political. We don’t call any of that political. We see that as leadership.’
‘The presence of the Marines at the speech was intended to demonstrate that deep and abiding respect the President has for these service members,’ she said at her Friday press briefing, ‘and the unique role our independent military plays in defending our democracy.’
‘So I am not talking about anything other than it is inappropriate. And it’s not only happening here, but other parts of the world with failure to recognize and condemn violence whenever it’s used for those purposes, failure to condemn the attempt to manipulate an electrical outcome, and failure to acknowledge when elections were won or lost.’
Republicans slammed Biden’s speech as divisive while Trump said Biden was ‘insane.’