Several networks won’t be carrying President Obama’s prime-time address on immigration Thursday night from the White House.
ABC, CBS and Fox are saying they won’t air the president’s speech live; NBC also reportedly isn’t planning to carry his address.
Mr. Obama is expected to announce an executive order that will grant legal status and work permits for as many as 5 million illegal immigrants. The address is set for 8 p.m. from the East Room of the White House.
White House officials are expressing annoyance with the networks’ decision, saying that all major networks aired a prime-time address by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006 when he announced the deployment of national guard troops at the U.S-Mexico border.
There was also griping among the White House press corps Wednesday at Mr. Obama using a Facebook video post to announce the timing of tonight’s address, rather than using the traditional media.
A television correspondent asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest if the move was “a thank you” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who helped launch the immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us that is aiding the administration’s push for immigration changes.
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Mr. Earnest denied the White House was playing favorites with Facebook, but said it was a good way to reach the president’s audience.
“The good news is that the wires, the networks and the press corp are all on Facebook,” Mr. Earnest said. “We don’t have to choose.”
Two networks with Hispanic audiences, Univision and Telemundo, will air the president’s address live. CNN, MSNBC and PBS also plan to broadcast live.
The Hill newspaper first reported the network blackout of the president’s speech.