The Atlantic

There’s No Winning for the Networks

News organizations have always debated the value of granting White House requests. President Trump’s treatment of the press adds another layer of complication.
Source: Alex Brandon / AP

When David Westin was the president of ABC News during the Clinton, Bush, and early Obama years, the occasional request from the White House for a prime-time presidential address was almost always granted, debated only privately among network executives deciding whether to give up their airwaves.

“It was more or less assumed that we would take them … When we had prime-time addresses in the Oval Office, it was clearly a very newsworthy event,” says Westin, who is now a  Bloomberg TV anchor. “But, as time went on, there were questions about whether the president was speaking as head of government or head of a political party.”

The major networks this week debated a similar set of questions

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