Network debate on carrying Trump address is laughably hypocritical

To carry or not to carry Trump's address? 
 
That was the question for many networks on Monday, after the president announced he would be addressing the nation Tuesday night at 9:00 pm ET on the government shutdown. 
Talk about getting boxed in with no easy solution. The Catch-22 for all the networks was this: Don't carry it, and that network will be accused by the right and by Trump of taking sides. Just more bias against the president, they'd say. 
From the left, it's the political version of opposite day: Why would the networks allow propaganda to be shown without a filter? Who will stop him from lying? Why should the airwaves be used as a political tool? 
We also saw reports of cable executives complaining about Trump calling them "fake news" while simultaneously asking for their cable pipes to get a false narrative out to the American people. This is the very best unintentional comedy because of the utter hypocrisy of it all. Need we remind what cable news looked like, for an almost-daily basis for the last half of 2015 and a good chunk of 2016 during the primaries? 
 
Here's a refresher. 
So the next time you hear about conservative media like Drudge being the reason Trump was elected, be sure not to laugh too hard. Bottom line is that Trump was great for all the networks' bottom lines, great for ratings, great for exploding ad revenue. And the best part? He made presenting the news so easy: Just point the camera at a podium, even if the featured speaker isn't there, and put the whole thing on cruise control while seeing the numbers shoot up on Nielsen reports. If Trump so much as sneezed, it was considered "BREAKING NEWS!" 
 
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Of course, the geniuses and powerful people on camera running said networks never thought a real estate mogul and reality star with zero political experience would ever actually, you know, win. So they kept giving him all the airtime he could ever need while turning his opponents — first, the 17 on the Republican side, and then the Democratic nominee — virtually invisible as it pertained to actually showing one of their speeches live. 
 
Oh, yes, the networks certainly didn't take the kind of pious stand against candidate Trump around airtime that we're hearing so much about now, did they?
 
The Atlanta Journal Constitution analysis noted of Trump's primary campaign, "in interviews, more than a dozen anchors, executives and news producers displayed admiration for Mr. Trump’s facility with their medium,"
 
"Some expressed a bit of soul-searching, admitting unease at the unfiltered exposure he has received, with one anchor describing frustration about being asked to conduct on-air interviews with Mr. Trump by telephone, rather than in person. But several offered the defense that whatever viewers make of Mr. Trump, he is undoubtedly newsworthy — and always accessible," the analysis concluded.
 
Undoubtedly newsworthy, yes. And undoubtedly a cash cow. In the first quarter of 2016, when Trump was really taking off and winning primaries to bring a realness to his chances of capturing the nomination, advertising rates skyrocketed. At CNN, for example, they rose 45 percent, according to Kantar Media, which tracks ad spending. At MSNBC, ad rates shot up 23 percent. 
 
Ted Koppel, one of the few remaining lucid journalists out there who is unapologetic in his assessment of the state of media today, put it best when asked if the networks should give the president time on their airwaves. “If what he has to say is clearly just in his self-interest and does not address the greater national interest, then the next time the White House comes around, I might not be inclined to offer it," Koppel told the New York Times on Tuesday. 
 
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Trump's address marks his first to the country from the Oval Office, on the 718th day of his presidency. He should get the eight minutes he's requesting. And Democrats should get eight minutes to respond, in an effort to be fair. 
 
Of course, the speech will be mostly eviscerated by a political press with a predisposition to oppose whatever the president has to say. 
 
Lots of debate, lots of deliberation. In the end, the needle won't move because of the tribal nature of our media and of our country. Both sides will hear what they want to hear. Such is our state of the union in 2019. 
 
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill and host of "What America's Thinking."