Accuracy in Media

Nancy Pelosi cleaned President Trump’s clock on delivering his State of the Union in the House of Representatives, according to the mainstream media.

Pelosi, who, as Speaker of the House, has to invite Trump to speak from the well of the chamber, sent the invitation on Jan. 3, when the government shutdown was in its 12th day with no sense it would abide soon.

Then, on Jan. 16, she wrote the president that they should consider postponing the speech and work together to find another date because security arrangements could prove difficult because of federal workers furloughed as a result of the shutdown.

After Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielson announced both her department and the Secret Service were up and working and fully able to provide security for the event, Pelosi indicated she was not “actually disinviting” Trump, wrote Jonathan Allen of NBC News at the time.

Trump responded by canceling a seven-day trip in which Pelosi was going to use military aircraft and government money to travel with 93 other people to Belgium, Egypt and Afghanistan. As the date for the speech grew closer and Pelosi failed to clarify whether Trump was indeed uninvited, the White House asked for a walk-through.

He then sent a letter saying that, unless he heard differently, he planned to give the address at the time the Speaker had invited him on Jan. 29. Pelosi responded on Thursday by declaring the president was uninvited.  

Trump responded with a pair of tweets that read: “As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I’m not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!”

“Pelosi flexes her muscle over Trump,” read the headline in the Washington Post. “President Trump Caved on the State of the Union. What happened?” asked Slate. “Donald Trump dared Nancy Pelosi to cancel his State of the Union speech. So she did,” read the headline on CNN.

“The first month of Pelosi’s return to the speakership has thus far served as a pretty resounding affirmation of her leadership and political acumen,” wrote Aaron Blake of the Post in the “flex her muscle” story. “And Wednesday epitomized it.”

He wrote that “Pelosi’s edge in the shutdown fight was only reinforced as the day went on. Early Wednesday afternoon, Trump made the highly questionable decision of telling Pelosi he would deliver the State of the Union address next week from the House chamber, even though Pelosi had raised shutdown-related objections to it. But Pelosi quickly sent a letter back saying she would not extend the invitation, and Trump, rather remarkable, immediately backed down. Pelosi had called his bluff.”

He concluded: “Trump has so far leaned into his fight with Pelosi in highly questionable ways – pushing for a border wall that people don’t want with a shutdown that people don’t want and picking a State of the Union fight he seemed destined to lose. If he keeps picking the wrong fights, Pelosi will only have more opportunities to look like the superior leader.”  

In “Trump Says He’ll Delay Speech Until After Shutdown, as Democrats Draft Border Security Plan” in the New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolbert writes: “For Mr. Trump, it would be been a moment to command the stage – with television cameras rolling and Ms. Pelosi stuck behind him, trying to figure out whether to grimace or nod. Now, the president is trying to paint Ms. Pelosi as a left-wing radical who canceled the address for political reasons, despite her assertion that she simply wanted to postpone, not cancel, it, because of the burden it would impose on Secret Service agents working without pay.”

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