Despite former President Donald Trump’s extensively documented propensity to lie and spread misinformation, multiple mainstream news outlets chose to livestream his post-arraignment speech on YouTube.
After Trump became the first current or former American president to face criminal charges, he used the opportunity to spew an array of already debunked lies, including that “millions of votes” had been “illegally stuffed into ballot boxes” in 2020. In his speech on April 4, Trump also smeared Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as a “criminal,” suggesting he should be prosecuted, and verbally attacked Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing his case, as “a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife and family, whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign.”
Mainstream news outlets such as MSNBC drew attention for refusing to air Trump’s speech live on cable, with MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow explaining that the speech was “basically a campaign speech in which he is repeating his same lies and allegations against his perceived enemies” and that “there’s a cost to us as a news organization of knowingly broadcasting untrue things.”
But on YouTube, and with potentially much larger audiences than on TV, several mainstream news outlets chose to air Trump’s lie-filled speech, including the relentlessly debunked claim that there were “millions of votes illegally stuffed into ballot boxes” during the 2020 election. The streams identified by Media Matters have garnered over 8.5 million views total online, and 5 were monetized.
Notably, Trump’s YouTube account — which was reinstated in March, allowing him to post new content for the first time since the January 6, 2021, insurrection — did not livestream the speech, as was common practice for the campaign in 2020. The speech was livestreamed from Trump’s Facebook page and his Rumble account, the far-right’s alternative to YouTube. Trump similarly livestreamed his first campaign rally speech on Facebook and Rumble, canceling the scheduled YouTube livestream — which would have violated YouTube’s election misinformation policies — before the rally began.
The post-arraignment speech also was not streamed on YouTube from Right Side Broadcasting Network, a pro-Trump online outlet that broadcasts most of his rallies, speeches, and events on its YouTube channel, due to a suspension just before Trump’s post-arraignment speech for violating the platform's policies on election misinformation, including for a stream of Trump’s Waco rally last week.
Even though these right-wing channels didn’t stream the post-arraignment speech, several mainstream media outlets did. Media Matters has identified 10 mainstream media outlets that livestreamed all or part of the speech on YouTube, 6 of which didn’t even debunk any of its misinformation and likely violated YouTube's policies.
Mainstream news outlets that aired all of Trump’s speech on YouTube and did not debunk any of it, including his election misinformation
CNBC Television, which has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, livestreamed Trump’s entire speech without debunking it or providing context afterward. The livestream has earned over 385,000 views. CNBC did not air the speech live on TV.
Reuters, which has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, livestreamed Trump's entire speech without providing context. The stream has earned over 33,000 views.
KUTV News, a CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City, streamed Trump’s speech in full without providing debunks or context after the speech. The livestream has earned over 49,000 views. By contrast, CBS’ national TV broadcast took just over 2 minutes of Trump’s speech live (including Trump’s false claim about ballot stuffing and his attack on Bragg), before cutting out to discuss Trump’s “litany” of “grievance[s],” saying the network would check in with its correspondent if Trump said “anything related to the case.”
WFLA News, an NBC affiliate in Tampa Bay, Florida, streamed Trump’s speech in full. At the conclusion of the speech, the anchor did not directly debunk false claims himself, instead saying Trump was “addressing the nation and speaking on what he thinks has happened to this country and also why he believes he is the best person to be elected in 2024,” and asking a guest, “Your analysis of the message that we heard tonight from the former president of the United States?” Notably, the guest praised MSNBC for choosing “not to even run this as a national speech.” While the NBC affiliate did not air the speech on TV, the livestream on YouTube has earned over 174,000 views.
WNYT News, an NBC affiliate in Albany, New York, streamed Trump’s entire speech without providing context or commentary. The YouTube channel has over 7 million subscribers and the stream has earned over several hundred views. The NBC affiliate did not air the speech on TV.
KUSI-TV, an independent television station in San Diego, livestreamed Trump’s speech in full without providing debunks or context after the speech, and instead parroted Trump’s talking points: “He was opening his remarks saying he never thought something like this could happen in America and his only crime was defending our nation from those who seek to destroy it.” The YouTube stream has earned over 3.8 million views, while the station also broadcast the full speech on TV.
YouTube channels that cut into the stream or gave context, including debunking Trump’s election misinformation
PBS NewsHour, which has over 3.5 million subscribers, streamed Trump’s speech in full and failed to debunk or provide commentary after. The stream displayed several “context” banners at the bottom of the screen when Trump made false claims, including one that said “There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election” after Trump claimed that “millions of votes” had been “illegally stuffed into ballot boxes.” The stream has over 300,000 views. PBS did not air Trump’s speech on TV.
The Washington Post, which has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, streamed Trump’s speech for more than 20 minutes before cutting out to provide commentary and context to debunk false claims. The host said the decision to cut away was made because Trump had “entered what is by now sort of a routine campaign speech. We’ve heard the news, really, from the top of this event.” The host also noted that Trump “used this moment in the spotlight to repeat lies about the 2020 election.” The livestream has earned over 151,000 views.
NBC News did not carry Trump’s speech live on broadcast TV. But on YouTube, where the network has over 7 million subscribers, the channel livestreamed coverage from the the network’s online streaming service, NBC News Now, including 8 minutes of Trump’s speech where he spewed election misinformation. The host explained, “We initially took this event thinking he was going to talk about the indictment today … , but it has turned into a speech of a list of grievances and of course some falsehoods” including “a lot of election mistruths about what happened to him in the 2020 election.” The stream has over 2.5 million views.
ABC News streamed the network’s broadcast TV coverage of Trump’s speech on its YouTube channel, which has over 14 million subscribers, including the 5 minutes of live coverage the network gave to Trump’s speech. After cutting away from the speech, the anchor noted that Trump’s claims about “massive election interference” have “been debunked and disputed. There have been no widespread irregularities reported in our election system, but again we will continue to keep you updated with his latest remarks.” The livestream has earned over 1 million views.