Several US TV networks late on Thursday halted live coverage of US President Donald Trump’s first public appearance since election night after concluding that the president was spreading disinformation.
Trump unleashed a flood of incendiary and unsubstantiated claims in a 17-minute address, insisting that Democrats were using “illegal votes” to “steal the election from us.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden responded to the declarations in a tweet saying “no one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever.”
The US, he continued, “has come too far, fought too many battles, and endured too much to let this happen.”
Trump tried to commandeer the nation’s airwaves after a day when the slow drip of vote counting revealed his leads in battleground states of Pennsylvania and Georgia dwindling.
“OK, here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the president of the United States but correcting the president of the United States,” said broadcaster MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, as the network quickly ended its live coverage.
NBC and ABC News also pulled the plug on their live coverage of Trump.
After ABC ended its coverage, the network’s White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, also said there was no evidence of illegal votes.
“What he seems to be frustrated by is … that it takes time to count votes,” Karl said. “It’s always taken time to count votes. But especially in this election.”
CNN kept Trump on the air, but a chyron displayed under him said, “Without any evidence, Trump says he’s being cheated.”
Anchor Jake Tapper looked weary when it was over.
“What a sad night for the United States of America to hear their president say that to falsely accuse people of trying to steal the election, to try to attack democracy in that way with this feast of falsehoods,” he said. “Lie after lie after lie. Pathetic.”
On Fox News Channel, commentators Bill Bennett and Byron York said that just because Trump did not allege specific instances of irregularities doesn’t mean there haven’t been any. But the president and his lawyers need to present evidence, they said.
“What we saw tonight is a president who believes that at the end of the day, when all the votes are counted, the election is not going to to go his way, so he’s trying to plan an alternate route to retain the White House,” said Fox White House correspondent John Roberts.
CBS News’ John Dickerson said Trump’s speech “felt like kind of a deflated recitation.”
All eyes are on tight races in the battleground states of Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona as ballot counts continue.
Thousands of people have protested across the country after Trump launched legal challenge calling to stop what he claimed counting of ‘illegal votes’.
Trump’s supporters have converged in front of polling centres calling to stop the counting process.