I understand that it is "ratings sweeps" month but given the great anticipation for Obama's speech on immigration reform you would think all the networks would carry it live. Alas, the "Big Three" networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, chose not to, opting for their regular programming instead. In case you are wondering that is The Big Bang Theory, The Biggest Loser and Grey's Anatomy. Fox carried the speech live on its cable news network.
The speech lasted a little over 15 minutes, hardly long enough to throw the timing off significantly, but it was apparently too much for these stations, who rely on public airwaves, to consider disrupting their regular programming. After all, Republicans would have demanded equal air time for a response, and the networks' news staffs would have felt obliged to comment. The end result, we would have missed Sheldon bid a sad farewell to his "Fun with Flags" podcast.
In these network's defense, I suppose most Americans turned to CNN or Fox News for the live broadcast. After all these are news channels. The major networks are principally in the business of entertainment. But, immigration is something that affects us all, and you have to wonder how many illegal immigrants are working in Hollywood.
Not surprisingly, Univision carried the speech for its Spanish-speaking audience, even though it momentarily disrupted the Latin Grammy Awards, but such award shows last all night anyway.
Immigration had been the touchstone issue throughout the midterm elections. All the networks generated great fears over Obama's potential executive orders. The Republicans have been threatening everything from a government shutdown to impeachment and even five years in jail if President Obama carries through on these executive orders. As it is, they are scrambling to find ways to block them, including another lawsuit.
In typical fashion, Obama addressed the issue calmly and succinctly, with a moving closing in which he reminded us that we are a nation shaped by immigrants. A bit of a letdown for all the media-generated fears leading up to the speech. I suppose it was the dreaded anticipation more than the speech itself that boosted ratings. Now, we will see the same networks slice and dice the speech and tell us all about the consequences in the most dire terms imaginable, as there is still a week left in the "ratings sweeps."
Thanks New York Times and other major periodicals for carrying the speech live without commentary.