The timing of NBC News’ town hall with President Donald Trump drew blowback Wednesday morning, with critics urging viewers to #BoycottNBC.
NBC News announced Wednesday that it will host a town hall event with Trump on Thursday, setting up a showdown with Democratic rival Joe Biden, who will participate in his own event on ABC that same night. Both will begin at 8 p.m. ET and came about after Trump backed out of the second debate with Biden, which was made virtual after the president tested positive for COVID-19.
The ABC Biden event was announced six days ago.
Political analyst Jeff Greenfield summed up the opposition on Twitter, writing, “The decision by NBC News to run a Trump town hall directly opposite ABC’s Biden town hall is indefensible.”
“This is exactly how Trump won the election, media outlets hungry for audience happily giving a white supremacist a platform despite the impact on society,” tweeted author and political commentator Frederick Joseph.
Tomi Ahonen, another author and speaker, appealed directly to NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell: “Andrea, speak up. Your network is making a grave mistake. It KNOWS Trump canceled on scheduled debate. Your network cannot REWARD Trump by scheduling against Biden’s Town Hall. Your network can pick ANY OTHER TIME SLOT Speak up Andrea or you will also be boycotted.”
NBC’s “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie will moderate the one-hour event, which will be held outdoors at Miami’s Pérez Art Museum under guidelines of local health officials.
Also on Wednesday, an independent body indicated for the first time that Trump may no longer be contagious. Dr. Clifford Lane, clinical director at the National Institutes of Health, told NBC News that he and Anthony Fauci had reviewed Trump’s recent medical data and found “with a high degree of confidence” that the president is “not shedding infectious virus.”
While viewers won’t be able to watch both events simultaneously, there exist options outside of DVR (though that counts, too): Trump’s event, moderated by Savannah Guthrie, will last one hour. Biden is expected to speak to George Stephanopoulos for 90 minutes. Both ABC News and NBC News also plan to stream their events on their social media platforms, making a re-watch possible. TheWrap will also have coverage of the major moments from both nominees’ town halls.
NBC News’ Lester Holt held a town hall with Biden on Oct. 5.