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For months, President Donald J. Trump has imagined a “made-for-TV” event celebrating America’s most patriotic of days, replete with aerial flyovers and military tanks, modeled after France’s Bastille Day celebration.
That event, an hourlong Salute to America, will air at 6:30 p.m. tonight, but the television networks he wants glued to his July 4th spectacle on the National Mall aren’t really biting.
So far, of the major networks, only Fox News has committed to covering the event live during a two-hour edition of Special Report.
CNN has not announced coverage plans and has not responded to a request for comment, while an MSNBC spokesperson said the network is not broadcasting the event live but “will assess in real time whether or not to air clips.”
The event will be live-streamed on the streaming service ABC News Live, though it will not on the linear channel. A spokesperson said the event — including a speech from the president — will be covered on the network’s flagship shows, including World News Tonight and Friday morning’s Good Morning America. (“ABC NewsOne will provide a clean feed to stations,” a spokesperson said.)
CBS News is taking a similar approach, choosing to take the event live only on its CBS News streaming service but to cover it on Thursday night’s CBS Evening News.
The networks seem to be skeptical of the event, which is an unusual departure from the annual Capitol Fourth celebration that will air on PBS 30 minutes after the president’s party is over.
Over the last few days, moderate and liberal pundits have accused the president of politicizing the holiday for his own gain. While the White House has cast the event as nonpartisan, The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that “his aides were tentatively planning to play campaign music when he takes the stage.”
Charlie Sykes, an MSNBC contributor, described the event as “a Trump re-election kickoff,” while Eugene Robinson said it is “kind of a combination of a Trump rally and Kim Jong Un-style military parade of hardware and equipment.”
Frank Sesno, the former CNN Washington bureau chief who runs a school at George Washington University, told The Hollywood Reporter that networks are obligated to cover Trump’s event. “News organizations will cover it extensively,” he said. “They should. This is news. Americans should see what the president’s version of July 4th looks and sounds like so they can judge for themselves whether the president is in bounds or has crossed the line yet again.”
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