Hours before the actual president of the United States addressed Tuesday's attacks in Brussels, the American media cleared its morning schedule to speak to the real man in charge: Donald Trump.
By early Tuesday morning, viewers tuning in to NBC, ABC or Fox News to catch up on the devastating explosions that killed at least 31 people saw footage of death and destruction narrated by Trump, calling in remotely, his tiny portrait visible in the corner of the screen.
The Republican presidential front-runner had tweeted a statement about the attacks around 8 a.m., but, as if he were already president, the networks scrambled to get him on-air to talk terror and torture. The magnate candidate seemed to be in three places at once.
"We're not the victims here; we're acting like this is our fault," he said on "Fox & Friends," which ran Trump's interview over a live statement from French President François Hollande.
On NBC's "Today," he plugged a return to waterboarding as a solution to what he considers America's namby-pamby approach to terrorism. "If we changed the laws or had the laws, waterboarding would be fine," he told Matt Lauer. "I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people."
On ABC's "Good Morning America," Trump asked viewers to give hate a chance. "We have a lot of people in our country right now that probably and definitely have the same feelings and the same feeling of hate as the people in Brussels," Trump said.
The tide eventually died down once Barack Obama, the actual president, took to the airwaves from Havana and gave his own remarks on the attacks, but not before one of Trump's GOP competitors attempted his own call-ins.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the first to get a statement out online, got some airtime on MSNBC and Fox News. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, held a press conference early and then finally appeared on Fox News around 11:15 a.m.
Conservatives on social media, however, vented their spleens, suspicious that the networks were keeping Cruz from calling on purpose. There's nothing stopping any of the other candidates, but Trump opts to do it so early and often he appears to have created the perception that other candidates are being blackballed.
MSM saying Trump was first to respond. Not true,Cruz was sending a thoughtful message but they refuse to listen. Instead let idiot call in
— Blessed American (@OLRDJ) March 22, 2016
@MattGertz Only Trump is allowed to call in to Fox-Cruz isn't allowed to and his staff told so.
— Kathleen (@teamfrazzled) March 22, 2016
— #onlycruz (@mychloegirl6124) March 22, 2016
— Lydia Pasteris (@lydia_pasteris) March 22, 2016
Others saw things differently:
@AstrosfanNJ Cruz is welcome to call in, but he doesn't have a practiced speech prepared for him, so he's pussying out
— bonzo kingdon (@frizebaldi) March 22, 2016