Obama’s speech to get GOP response

OBAMA’S SPEECH TO GET GOP RESPONSE…. President Obama will deliver an address on health care to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Given the attention, congressional Republicans requested that networks also air a GOP response, noting that this is what happened in 1993, following a similar address from then-President Bill Clinton. Yesterday, ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN agreed to air both, though it’s unclear who’ll speak on the Republicans’ behalf.

It’s even less clear what the GOP response will say. After all, there is no official Republican alternative to Democratic reform plans. On July 23, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said GOP lawmakers were putting “the final touches” on the Republican bill. That was 44 days ago, and the party isn’t even pretending to still care. Any chance the GOP will use this week’s rebuttal to unveil a plan? I kind of doubt it.

On a related note, every major network will air the president’s speech — except one. Care to guess?

While ABC, NBC and ABC confirmed today they’ll air Obama’s address to Congress, Fox has just announced in a statement that the network won’t preempt programming on Wednesday, according to a company statement.

It’s not too surprising considering Fox aired “So You Think You Can Dance” instead of Obama’s last prime-time news conference. The reality dance contest also airs at 8pm on Wednesday, the same time Obama addresses Congress.

Actually, I think it is “surprising.” It’s one thing to skip a press conference; it’s another to skip a speech to a joint session of Congress in the midst of one of the biggest policy debates of this generation.

Eric Boehlert asks, “Did Fox TV ever refuse to air one of president Bush’s joint-session speeches? Indeed, has any U.S. TV network ever refused to air presidential speech before Congress?”

That last question is of particular interest. I can’t find any examples of a major national broadcast network — ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox — refusing to air a presidential address to a joint session of Congress. Does anyone know if this is a first for the television era?