Biden, Trump to Hold Dueling Town Halls

NBC News announces it will host the president's event, prompting instant online backlash
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2020 9:04 AM CDT
Biden, Trump to Hold Dueling Town Halls
This combination of Sept. 29, 2020, file photos show President Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

After it was announced that the second debate between President Trump and Joe Biden, originally set for Thursday, was canceled due to Trump refusing a virtual format, Biden decided to do his own town hall that night in Philly instead, to air on ABC News. Now, NBC News reports that Trump is holding his own town hall, on its network—and on the same night and at the same time as Biden's event. Per a release, Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie will host the one-hour Trump event in Miami, which will be held outdoors at a local art museum and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Guthrie and the president will sit at least 12 feet apart from both each other and the Florida voters in the audience, who will need to remain masked the entire time.

NBC staff attending the event will all receive COVID tests as well. NBC notes that it went ahead with the town hall after National Institutes of Health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, looked at Trump's recent medical data and concluded "with a high degree of confidence" that the president "is not shedding infectious virus" after his recent bout with COVID-19. Not everyone is happy with NBC's decision to host Trump's town hall, leading to the #BoycottNBC hashtag cropping up on Twitter shortly after NBC's announcement. Some say the president shouldn't be offered that opportunity, as he was the one who pulled out of the original debate with Biden, while others also point out the timing is unfortunate. "The point of a news organization is to serve the public," Vivian Schiller, former senior VP and chief digital officer for NBC News, wrote. "This is the opposite. @NBCNews could literally run this any other day, or any other time. Shameful." (More President Trump stories.)

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