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NBC News announced Wednesday morning that it will host a town hall with President Donald Trump on Thursday.
The one-hour event will take place outdoors at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida. Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie will moderate.
Thursday was supposed to be the date for the second presidential debate between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, but the event was canceled after Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization. The debate was supposed to be a town hall moderated by C-SPAN anchor Steve Scully.
Instead, Biden and Trump will face off in dueling town halls, with Biden set to appear on ABC News from 8 to 9:30 p.m., and Trump on NBC the same evening in the 8-9 p.m. time slot. Both town halls will share the same format, with Good Morning America‘s George Stephanopoulos moderating the ABC event.
NBC’s Trump town hall will also air on MSNBC and CNBC, and stream online, while ABC’s Biden town hall will also stream online.
NBC says that Dr. Anthony Fauci and National Institute of health clinical director Dr. Clifford Lane have reviewed Trump’s recent medical data and determined “with a high degree of confidence” that he is no longer shedding the virus.
The final official presidential debate remains on the calendar for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. NBC’s Kristen Welker is slated to moderate.
NBC’s decision to air the Trump town hall directly against the Biden town hall on ABC drew sharp criticism, as it means that viewers watching live will need to choose which candidate to watch. Because the Trump town hall will be simulcast on multiple networks, it is likely to have more viewers.
“The decision by NBC News to run a Trump town hall directly opposite ABC’s Biden town hall is indefensible,” former ABC News, CBS News and CNN political analyst Jeff Greenfield tweeted. “I’ve heard from over a dozen NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC sources (talent and staff) and the frustration with and anger toward their employer for scheduling a town hall against Biden is palpable,” tweeted HuffPost and New York contributor Yashar Ali.
“The cynicism of NBC execs, who gave us The Apprentice and thus this President, is stunning and shameful. ABC should call their bluff and move Biden so he talks after Trump,” wrote New Yorker staff writer Sue Halpern. “If NBC wanted to give Trump a platform after he backed out of the debate, why on earth would they schedule the town hall to overlap with Biden’s tomorrow night? How does that serve anyone’s interests? They should delay the Trump town hall until after Biden’s is done,” wrote actor George Takei.
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