This week’s planned second POTUS debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden got cancelled when Trump decided that it wasn’t worth his time to do the event virtually. Since Trump walked away from the event, ABC decided to hand that empty air time to Biden for a town hall, and not to be outdone, Trump wanted his own town hall, too. NBC stepped up, but they did it in an arguably shady way: by scheduling Trump for the same time slot as Biden: Thursday night at 8:00pm. People weren’t pleased, especially with NBC’s history of looking the other way when it comes to Trump behavior.
It’s also not possible for viewers to watch both events at once to stay informed (unless they want to do it in stereo). Don Lemon let all of his disgust fly to that effect on Wednesday night. “This not inform the electorate,” he declared. “It’s a complete ratings ploy… you should be embarrassed, NBC.”
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) October 15, 2020
Lemon continued to stress how silly (and strange, as well as antagonistic) it is for both events to happen simultaneously, and he argued that the equal-time rule would be easily satisfied by staggering these events on different nights or even simply a different time slot. “You don’t have to do it, at the same time, and then divide the country further by having them choose,” Lemon argued. “The whole point of it was to bring them together to have a debate.”
Instead, NBC decided to schedule their event (with Trump doing a town hall outside in Florida) after ABC had already booked Biden (who will do his thing in Philadelphia). Brian Stelter joined Lemon to spread word from what he’s heard from NBC employees: they aren’t happy, and they’re worried that this looks like “collusion.” Whatever the case, these clashing town halls will be an utter mess on Thursday night.