Stephen Colbert on Monday criticized CBS — which carries his late-night show — after the network confirmed it would air President Trump’s address on immigration, in which he is expected to advocate for the necessity of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“My network will be carrying Trump’s Wall speech live. So at 9pm Tuesday, tune into CBS to See B.S.,” Colbert, host of “The Late Show,” wrote in a tweet Monday night.
Trump announced his plan in a tweet Monday, writing that he would address “the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier that Trump will also travel to the southern border Thursday “to meet with those on the front lines.”
Trump’s Oval Office address will be delivered as the partial government shutdown winds through its third week, and the president has indicated he will consider declaring a national emergency to begin construction of the border wall. Trump has requested $5.7 billion for the wall in any funding bill to reopen federal agencies.
Colbert, a frequent critic of Trump, appears to be echoing a concern held by some that a widely broadcast, uninterrupted speech by Trump will give him a chance to spread misinformation and mislead viewers on the situation at the border. The Post’s Fact Checker reports that, as of Dec. 30, the president has made 7,645 false or misleading claims since assuming office.
By midnight on Monday, CBS, along with NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, C-SPAN, Fox News, Fox Business Network and Telemundo had indicated they would air Trump’s speech, which is expected to run for eight minutes.
CBS did not immediately respond to an email and phone call requesting comment Tuesday morning.
“I expect the president to lie to the American people,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “Why do I expect this? Because he has been lying to the American people.”
Nadler was part of a delegation of Democratic lawmakers who toured a Border Patrol facility in Alamogordo, N.M., on Monday to investigate the death of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the second child to die in December after being apprehended crossing the border illegally.
In a joint statement Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats also deserved airtime to have an opportunity to rebut the president’s message.
“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,” they said.
While the broadcast networks typically carry presidential addresses, there is no requirement or regulation compelling them to do so. “This isn’t state television,” in which authorities control the airwaves, said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a veteran communications attorney at the Georgetown University Law Center.
CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC didn’t show President Barack Obama’s immigration speech in November 2014, in which he outlined changes in immigration policy.
It is not uncommon for late-night comics to take jabs at their own networks. Colbert has mocked CBS, and former “Late Show” host David Letterman was known for doing the same.
On his own late-night program on NBC, Seth Meyers also challenged the networks that opted to air Trump’s address.
"First of all, just because Trump wants to address the nation doesn’t mean networks should air it,” Meyers said. “Otherwise, they’re just passing on his lies unfiltered. They should either reject him outright, or if he insists on speaking in prime-time, make him do it as a contestant on “The Masked Singer.”
Meyers’s and Colbert’s shows returned Monday night after short breaks over the holidays, which the latter referred to in a Tuesday morning tweet as a “17-day shutdown” from the show’s regularly scheduled programming.
Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.