After President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to his strange hospitalization and even stranger behavior in the days following his release, Joe Biden’s campaign made a reasonable request for the second presidential debate: Do it virtually. Given Trump was still within the 14-day window of testing positive for the virus and most likely contagious, the Presidential Debate Commission ruled that a virtual debate was in the best interests of everyone’s health and safety. However, the Trump campaign balked at this arrangement and refused to agree to the new terms, which ultimately disqualified the president from the debate. This move gave Biden the entire town hall formate to himself, which is set to air on Thursday night on ABC.
But in a controversial move, NBC has announced that it will now host its own town hall with Trump on Thursday at the same time as Biden’s. NBC defended its decision by asserting that Trump is not infectious and proper safety precautions will be taken. Via CNN:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Director Clifford Lane said in a statement to NBC News that they have concluded, via PCR test analysis, “with a high degree of confidence” that Trump is “not shedding infectious virus.”
The event will be moderated by Savannah Guthrie, who will sit 12 feet from the President. Attendees will be required to wear face masks.
In a bit of unfortunate timing, NBC’s surprise decision arrived on the heels of a damning report on Trump’s time at the network as its top reality star. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to insiders who claim that NBC was well aware of Trump’s racist tendencies and questionable business dealings, and it could have stopped his presidential run. Instead, the network sat on its hands. “They should have clamped down on him then but they continued to turn the other way,” a source said. “It’s always all about the bottom line.”
With the one-two punch of the Celebrity Apprentice revelations and NBC essentially giving the president 90 minutes of free air-time, #BoycottNBC began trending on Twitter as people voiced their anger with the controversial town hall announcement:
Is NBC doing a crossover episode between “The Apprentice” and “To Catch A Predator”?
That is the only explanation I can think of why they will reward this clown for backing out of the debate.
— YS (@NYinLA2121) October 14, 2020
It’s so cool how Trump won’t do a remote debate but will do a town hall at the same time as Biden’s on a competing network, & even cooler that NBC is happy to host a superspreader event to take eyeballs from Biden, & all this is definitely not just that Trump is a fucking coward
— Catherynne M. Valente (@catvalente) October 14, 2020
Fair point; not sure why Trump/NBC couldn't have gone before or after, or on another day. This should be about voters, give them a chance to see candidates. Instead, feels like this is going to deteriorate into chest-thumping over who gets biggest ratings. https://t.co/edjPS9Vp6K
— adam nagourney (@adamnagourney) October 14, 2020
Hello, NBC/MSNBC/CNBC workers. You can organize a walk out. https://t.co/DOHwdkigBH
— (((Rob Forman))) (@robsforman) October 14, 2020
That they’ve profited handsomely from the Trump show for years and have every financial incentive to keep this gravy train running https://t.co/L7oUq6qNpr
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) October 14, 2020
People talk about Fox News & right-wing radio, but it's crucial to understand that Trump's launchpad was NBC, which gave him an entry-point to mainstream America that Fox doesn't have. https://t.co/mfmLsbmDp4
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) October 14, 2020
NBC agreeing to the town hall has been reminding me so strongly of something & I just realized it's what every parenting book tells you NOT to do if you're trying to teach a toddler that having tantrums isn't effective
— Curtis Sittenfeld (@csittenfeld) October 14, 2020