NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen explained to readers earlier this month why NPR decided to air Pres. Donald Trump’s Oval Office immigration address live. Jensen’s post came in response to reader questions and concerns about how NPR would fact check.
“The argument is essentially that broadcast (and cable) news organizations should abandon established protocol of covering presidential Oval Office speeches live because this particular president has a well-documented pattern of saying things that simply aren’t true, including in making his case for his border wall,” Jensen explained.
In response, NPR’s deputy managing editor Terence Samuel told Jensen that
“to the extent that somebody telling lies will completely throw us off our game and we don’t know how to responsibly cover this event, that is not a clear-eyed view of what we do and how we do it.” He noted that NPR typically fact checks Trump so it intended to cover as such. Further, both he and Jensen warned that it suggested NPR listeners would believe everything in spite of any later fact checks.
“In the middle of a government shutdown over immigration, the key protagonist in the debate says he wants to speak to the American people,” Samuel continued. “I don’t understand the world in which we do not allow the public to hear the president in his words.”