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UPDATED, 1:59 PM PT: Hours before he is set to take the stage at an NBC News town hall, Donald Trump again attacked the network, calling it “fake news,” in what was either an effort to work the refs or goose the ratings for the event.
“I will be doing a major Fake @NBCNews Town Hall Forum, live tonight from Miami, at 8:00 P.M. They asked me to do it in place of the Rigged Steve Scully (he is now suspended from @cspan for lying) Debate. I wonder if they’ll treat me as well as Sleepy Joe? They should!”
Trump’s reference to Scully was the announcement that he was being placed on indefinitely leave after lying about his claim that his Twitter account had been hacked. Scully was to moderate the town-hall format debate that was eventually scrapped after Trump refused to participate in a virtual event.
The town hall will start at the same time that Joe Biden is headlining a similar event on ABC. Critics have said that NBC was giving Trump a platform after he bailed out of the debate, and that the president likely will trumpet the ratings if he scores higher than his Democratic rival.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:50 AM PT: NBC are taking a lot of heat today for scheduling a town hall with Donald Trump tonight opposite Joe Biden on ABC, including from the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host himself.
“So you know I’m being set up tonight,” Trump just told a reelection campaign rally in North Carolina. “I’m doing this town hall with Concast, C-O-N, con, cause it’s a con job,” the former reality TV frontman joked with supporters as NBC and its news division are being heavily criticized for running the incumbent’s event at the same time as ABC has a previously announced event with Biden.
“It’s NBC, the worst,” Trump went on to declare. “Home of Sleepy-Eyed Chuck Todd and some others,” he added to the Greenville audience.
“I figured, what the hell, we get a free hour on television,” Trump arrogantly said, mocking moderator and Today co-host Savannah Guthrie (“she’s always lovely, isn’t she?”), NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt (“he’s a beauty”) and the town hall NBC had with Biden last week. “It was a joke,” the incumbent added of the October 5 event with the ex-VP, figuratively biting the hand that is feeding him tonight.
“Actually, I’d like to watch him, because I’d like to see if he can make it through the program, the recently COVID-19 infected Trump concluded on the poll leading Democrat and his stint Thursday on the Disney-owned net.
NBC News did not respond to request for comment on Trump’s attacks today, just hours before he is supposed to sit down with Guthrie.
Announced almost right after the second POTUS debate that was set for tonight collapsed last week, the Biden town hall will start at 8 PM ET and run for 90-minutes with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos moderating. As that Philadelphia event occurs, Trump will be on virtually the same socially distanced turf in Miami as Biden was 10 days ago. The NBC town hall with Trump also starts at 8 PM ET, but only runs an hour – meaning the former Veep will get the last word in the figuratively split screen at least on broadcast TV.
However, as is clearly the primary purpose of the President’s appearance tonight, Trump will almost certainly have the greater reach with MSNBC and CNBC simulcasting the NBC airing. Both ABC and NBC have insisted that their respective town halls are being held under COVID-19 health guidelines, with safety recommendations from medical experts.
Earlier today, some of the biggest names in Hollywood and others pleaded with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and NBCU News Group chairman Cesar Conde to move their Trump town hall out of direct competition with Biden on ABC.. “We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state,” Ava DuVernay, JJ Abrams, Greg Berlantti, Damon Lindelof, Kenya Barris, Phil Lloyd & Chris Miller, Adam McKay, Courtney Kemp and 90 others wrote
In near immediate response, Conde put out a statement that said “we share in the frustration that our event will initially air alongside the first half of ABC’s broadcast with Vice President Biden.” He added: “If we were to move our town hall with President Trump to a later timeslot we would be violating our commitment to offer both campaigns access to the same audience and the same forum.”
A response that not even Donald Trump takes seriously, as he just made clear on the campaign trail. On the other hand, on social media, #nbcblackout is one of the top trending topics in America right now.
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