Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida. But what the former incumbent had touted as a "very big announcement" a week ago drew only moderate interest from the US media. The country's three major television stations even completely refrained from broadcasting his performance live.
The TV broadcaster ABC gave its audience another episode of the reality show "Bachelor in Paradise" instead of the hour-long Trump speech. NBC showed its viewers the seventh episode of the second season of the sci-fi drama "La Brea". And CBS broadcast an episode of its fictional series, which has been running since 2018, about a New York branch of the US federal police FBI.
Of the major cable channels, MSNBC also decided against reporting live from Mar-a-Lago and, as always, broadcast the political show "Alex Wagner Tonight" from Tuesdays to Fridays. CNN showed almost 25 minutes of the Trump speech in Palm Beach and then switched to the studio, where a group of political experts analyzed the speech and journalist Daniel Dale, known as Trump Checker, verified its truthfulness. However, even before Trump took the stage, CNN prepared interviews for the upcoming event and showed footage of the Mar-a-Lago ballroom, which filled with guests in front of the empty lectern.
The situation was different on Fox News: moderator Sean Hannity dedicated about 40 minutes of his show "Hannity" to a live switch to Trump, for whom he has been a propaganda mouthpiece, campaign helper and advisor for years. When the ex-president began taunting former Chancellor Angela Merkel about Germany's dependence on Russian gas, Hannity chimed in and let Trump allies Mike Huckabee and Pete Hegseth have their say. Huckabee explained that the 76-year-old is "unbeatable" if he sticks to it like he did in the speech, and Hegseth gushed, "Nothing beats the original." Fox News later switched back to Florida and showed another part of the performance.
The New York Post - also part of News Corp. — had even mocked Trump as a caricature of a boy from a nursery rhyme on their front page on Thursday and also hailed DeSantis' front page as "DeFUTURE" the day before. And the editors of the "Wall Street Journal" called the ex-president the "biggest loser of the Republican Party".
It is not yet clear how the Murdoch media, especially Fox News, will deal with Trump in the future - especially if DeSantis actually positions himself as an internal party opponent. What is clear, however, is that all broadcasters will be under special observation and great pressure over the next two years, especially if there is a large field of candidates in the Republican primary. CNN was repeatedly criticized in 2016 because Trump's rallies got significantly more airtime than those of other candidates. NBC even invited Trump to host "Saturday Night Live" in November 2015 and, after violent protests, was forced to give other Republican candidates the same airtime. And then-CBS boss Les Moonves had said at the time that Trump's campaign "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."
CNN has already indicated that the network will take a different approach this time, judging events more on newsworthiness and less on Trump hype. According to The Washington Post, the network's new boss, Chris Licht, told staff Tuesday that decisions about reporting on Trump as a presidential candidate would be made on a case-by-case basis.
Sources: "Washington Post", CNN, "Deadline", editorial network Germany