The Trump administration has requested airtime on major networks for President Trump’s prime-time message regarding immigration. The major broadcast and cable news networks CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNN have all agreed to carry the message.

In this article by The New York Times, it is stated that such messages are rare.

In the recent past, White House requests to interrupt prime-time programming on the nation’s broadcast networks were rare and usually reserved for moments of national import, like the death of Osama bin Laden, and networks usually granted the requests. There have been instances, however, where such requests were rejected by producers as insufficiently newsworthy.

Excluding joint addresses to Congress (e.g. SOTU), just, exactly, how rare are prime time presidential addresses in the past, especially those that are given airtime on the major broadcast networks1? Is there a list of such prime time presidential messages?

1Major networks include CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNN.

  • Here's a list of the first six years of Obama's term. It has 9 (including the then-imminent one), of which it appears two were shutdown related. This article may list ones prior to 1999, but I'm not sure because only the first page is available without signing up. I couldn't find a unified list. – Bobson Jan 8 at 22:29
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    Some of the earliest ones were by FDR known as the "Fireside Chats" by radio. Before then, for technological reasons, the number was zero. The Wikipedia list of Oval Office addresses in deleted entry, while overinclusive, does appear to include all of them, greatly narrowing the inquiry. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oval_Office_address – ohwilleke Jan 8 at 23:09
  • Well, Hoover, not FDR was actually the first. – ohwilleke Jan 8 at 23:27
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    @ohwilleke: I'm not sure if the Fireside Chats are recorded in the Oval Office, but the President's Weekly Radio Address (followed by the opposition party's rebuttle) is an actual thing that can be found online and airs around Noon, EST, on Saturdays so long as the radio station chooses to carry it (Talk radio tends to be best format for finding this). – hszmv Jan 10 at 16:56

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