Trump uses Facebook Live to make major Supreme Court announcement

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Update: In a Facebook Live broadcast, Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the US Supreme Court. The Live video on the White House’s Facebook page as 3.8 million views as of 11:07pm PT.

Original story continues below…

President Donald Trump will reveal his choice to fill a vacant justice seat on the US Supreme Court via Facebook Live tonight, turning to the platform in an unprecedented move for such an announcement.

The White House and the president revealed the streaming plans on – where else – Twitter earlier on Tuesday. The broadcast takes place at 5pm PT/8pm ET/1am GMT on the White House Facebook page. 

We asked Facebook for comment on Trump’s broadcast, including how the social network views it as part of Live’s role in the political process and whether it will offer any additional support for the stream. A Facebook spokesperson got back to us with the following statement:

“We are available to provide advice and best practices to the White House, as we do for many elected officials,” the Facebook rep told us. “We are not providing any technical assistance or staff for tonight’s Facebook Live broadcast.”

Trump’s use of Facebook Live and the timing of the announcement are unusual for several reasons. For one, it takes place during prime time TV hours, turning the monumental decision into something of a reality show. Presidents have in the past made their Supreme Court picks public during daytime press conferences.

Lending to the reality show feel is that the two front-runners – judges Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman – are reportedly in Washington D.C. in anticipation of the announcement, according to CNN. One will leave with the nomination, the other with nothing.

The announcement will also air on TV – broadcasters will interrupt regularly scheduled programming to deliver it – however by using Facebook Live, Trump can avoid commentary from networks. As Trump and the media’s relationship grows more contentious, this could be the first of more announcements made via social media to come.

Facebook has pushed hard on video in recent years, particularly when it comes to Live (you may have seen the commercials). Live was used extensively during the US presidential election by candidates to connect with constituents, Trump included, and it appears now that he is president, he has no plans to stop using the service. 

While Facebook has paid celebrities and other publishers for Live content in the past, a Facebook spokesperson tells , “There are no incentives or Live partnerships with the President or the White House.”