At 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 8, President Donald Trump gave a much-awaited speech on national television to drum up support for his signature promise of a border wall with Mexico. Broadcast from the Oval Office on major news networks and cable news outlets, the speech lasted about nine minutes and was followed by a Democratic response. As the president prepared to address the nation on Tuesday night, there was plenty of anticipation as to what he might say with his airtime, and there were plenty of reactions as he finally took the proverbial stage. These tweets about Trump's prime time address are everything you need to know about those nine minutes.
In his remarks from the Oval Office, Trump stuck to his talking points about the need for a border wall, saying that Mexico would be ultimately paying for the wall "indirectly" via a trade deal that would benefit America. He also brought up a number of individuals who had been killed by alleged illegal immigrants as a way to highlight what he referred to as a "crisis" regarding immigration. "Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken immigration system," he said, while suggesting that the border wall, which had been a promise of Trump's on the campaign trail, was a request from law enforcement.
He continued on to blame Democrats for the ongoing government shutdown, which continues on as a result of a dispute over funding for said border wall. “Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis," he said. “The federal governemnt remains shut down for one reason and one reason only. Because Democrats will not fund border security.”
Unsurprisingly, users on social media responded in real time to the president's words, and the reactions ran the gamut.
Some people were.... prepared... for the speech early. I mean, whatever gets you through.
A lot of people were just truly unimpressed.
But even more people called Trump out on what they saw as inaccuracies.
A lot of people were interested to see that the president had chosen not to declare a state of emergency. Trump had previously suggested he would be willing to do so as a way of bypassing Congress and securing funding for the wall, although it's unclear if that would be successful. Ahead of the speech, many had expected Trump to use it to justify his request for border wall funding as a response to national emergency.
And at least one person pointed out a touch of irony in the background.
Funding for the border wall has become the sticking point in negotiations as partisan gridlock over the budget has continued, resulting in a partial shutdown, which is in its 18th day as of Trump's speech. Democrats in Congress have refused to budge on Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for the project.
Like the border wall, the speech itself was a major point of contention. There was a lot of buzz around the news that the president had requested airtime on Monday, with many citing the networks' refusal to heed a similar request by President Barack Obama in 2014, also about immigration. Also of concern was the networks' potential role in helping to disseminate misinformation, given the sheer rate at which Trump makes false or misleading statements coupled with the fact that Tuesday's address would be aired live without any sort of real-time, on-air fact-checking to debunk any untrue claims. Elite Daily reached out to the White House regarding the president's truthfulness and the address prior to its airing, but did not hear back.
Concerns about how much airtime to give Trump's remarks in general have been increasingly coming into media debate, and the role and responsibility of the press in covering his statements.
There was also much anticipation for what would be said after Trump concluded his speech. Democratic leaders, after requesting networks to give them equal airtime as a rebuttal to the president, were approved to deliver their remarks on Tuesday following Trump. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, leading their party's opposition on the budget negotiations, did the honors.
The Democratic leaders seemed singularly unimpressed by Trump's claims in his address, and even less so by his laying the blame on their party for the government shutdown. “We don’t govern by temper tantrum," Schumer admonished the president.
Even in the lead-up to Tuesday's speech, there were some extreme tweets out there in anticipation.
Comedian Nick Pappas, sharing a clip from the movie Billy Madison, dug in with a parody ahead of the remarks in anticipation of what Pelosi and Schumer would say in response.
Trump's Cabinet, at least, had a lot of faith in him. During a photo op with the king of Jordan earlier in the day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was reportedly heard saying that the address would "make a lot of news," apparently having seen the planned speech ahead of time, according to CBS News' Mark Knoller.
So whether Pompeo was right in that prediction... well, we can leave that to the reactions to judge. Whether or not this address was what Trump intended, or whether it will ultimately help solve the budget negotiation stalemate, are questions still to be answered. I don't know if I'd lay money on it.