Democrats Will Present Rebuttal to Trump Tonight

The bad news: All the major networks have committed to allowing Donald Trump free airtime tonight to disgorge his obscene lies about immigrants and the imagined danger they pose at the southern border.

The good news: The Democrats have demanded equal time to deliver a rebuttal, and, so far, "CBS, NBC, and CNN have said they will carry the response."

The Democrats haven't yet announced who will deliver the rebuttal. My fervent wish is that it's Senator Mazie Hirono.

No matter who does it, though, it's going to be impossible for them to get as much traction as the president, whose lies will be broadcast and re-broadcast and repeated in headlines and dissected by cable news panels for days on end.

Which is why the networks should never have granted him this time in the first place, knowing that he would use it just to promulgate a hateful agenda designed to engender manufactured fear and violent prejudice. They are assisting him with his campaign of stochastic terrorism, allowing themselves to be enlisted as conspirators in his war on immigrants.

And there is precedent — very recent and relevant precedent — for turning down a president who requests airtime: In 2014, President Barack Obama requested airtime for a speech on immigration and was turned down by every network.

But the rules were always different for Obama — and the rules are different for Trump. This is, after all, the candidate whose empty podium got $billions of free airtime during the election. (And gets it still.)

There are people calling for a boycott of Trump's address this evening. I understand that. The thing is, because Trump has now been granted the highly visible platform he was seeking, he's more likely to use it to maximum effect. With Trump, there's always a chance he's going to scream at everyone to look at him only to waste our time, but, given the current environment, his announcing a national emergency is a significant possibility. And boycotting the speech isn't going to change that.

So, don't watch it if you don't want to watch it. Watch it if you want to, without feeling shamed by people making a different choice. Whatever feels best to you. Life is short.

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