Jimmy Kimmel gives federal employees work during Trump's shutdown

Sheila Mcguire
January 10, 2019

Trump's address, which marked his first live remarks from the Oval Office, came in the midst of apartial government shutdown that hinges on his demand for $5.7 billion to fund a wall at the country's southern border.

The late-night funnyman also took aim at the official Democratic response from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, which was widely mocked for their wooden delivery and freakish staging, with the pair squished together behind one podium.

"I would say he made a lot of dubious claims", Todd said.

"That is where he shines", Kimmel said. "For those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask to imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken", he said. He talked about drug crossings at the border but government statistics show that much of the heroin actually comes not from over the unguarded border, but through ports of call.

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"The White House says no".

Trump said the border trip was merely a photo opportunity, the source claimed.

Democrats in response accused Trump appealing to "fear, not facts" and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.

He listed gruesome examples of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including a "beheading and dismembering", and said he would "never forget the pain" of survivors he'd met.

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And yet this time around, all the major networks said they'd provide coverage of the speech.

Brevity went a long way toward securing those high ratings, as very little of what was presented to the American people on Tuesday night was new material. "He played them, and they let them do it".

All told, the average draw for the seven linear TV outlets was 39.8 million viewers, shy of the 45.6 million viewers who watched last year's State of the Union Address, but well ahead of the 25.6 million who tuned in for Trump's July 9 announcement in which he introduced the nation to his new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

A Trump 2020 campaign official said: "Net win".

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For network executives, tradition and news judgment - the simple idea that this is "a presidential address from the Oval Office" - outweighed concerns about the content. "It is hard to argue this night was about anything other than pure politics - and the networks interrupted programming to accommodate it".

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