“It Does Not Fix The Fact That We Broadcast It”: Rachel Maddow And Other MSNBC Hosts Grapple With Decision To Carry Donald Trump’s Speech Live

All of the major news networks carried Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday victory speech live, but MSNBC was the first to cutaway, reflecting a debate at news outlets over how to cover the former president’s fusillade of false claims and unfounded accusations.

Rachel Maddow, leading coverage on the network, was clearly disturbed over the airtime given to Trump, in which he made unfounded claims about the weaponization of the Justice Department and took credit for the rise in the stock market.

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As Trump went on, Maddow cut in and told viewers, “Okay, I will say that it is a decision that we revisit constantly in terms of the balance between allowing somebody to knowingly lie on your air about things they lied about before, and you can predict they are going to lie about, and so therefore it is irresponsible to allow them to do that.”

She added, “The balance between knowing that that’s irresponsible to broadcast, and also knowing that the de facto, soon-to-be-de facto nominee of the Republican party — this is not only the man who was likely to be the Republican candidate for president, but this is the way he is running.”

Stephanie Ruhle then chimed in, saying, “Here’s how we balance it: Why don’t we fact check the hell out of him?”

Maddow responded, “So we do that after the fact, and that is the best remedy that we got. It does not fix the fact that we broadcast it.”

Then, she and other networks hosts did fact check Trump, although the question of how to cover him lingered. Lawrence O’Donnell later suggested that networks “could give him half the screen,” while the other half would feature a real-time fact-checking scroll. “You know he is going to say all of this stuff repeatedly. Just put it there right beside him on the screen while he is saying it, because they are the same lies over and over again,” he said.

MSNBC’s decision to carry at least part of Trump’s remarks was a contrast to its coverage of the Iowa caucuses, when the network declined to cover his victory speech, also with Maddow explaining the reasoning to viewers. But as Trump has gotten closer to the nomination, MSNBC has veered toward carrying at least portions of his speeches live. That was the case on Monday, when the network carried a portion of his comments after the Supreme Court ruled that states could not remove him from their ballots.

CNN and Fox News carried the entirety of Trump’s Super Tuesday speech. Afterward, CNN went to Tom Foreman’s fact check. He said that Trump’s claim that Biden had weaponized the DOJ against him was “utterly false.”

Fox News personalities have criticized other networks for not carrying Trump’s speeches, but Neil Cavuto has fact checked him. Last month, he cut away from a Trump speech in South Carolina by telling viewers, “Even though the former president is entitled to his opinion, he is not entitled to his own set of facts. The market has indeed been going up, but having nothing to do with him.”

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