President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, were supposed to debate each other for the second time this Thursday. The event was postponed due to Trump testing positive for the coronavirus. Trump then refused to take part in a virtual debate with the former veep, leading to it being scrapped entirely.
Biden, determined to maintain his momentum with voters, quickly rearranged his schedule to participate in a town hall in Philadelphia hosted by ABC, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday. Trump, it appeared, was about to eat some Democrat dust.
On Wednesday, however, NBC announced that it too has since scheduled a town hall, but in Miami, for Trump – at the same time as Biden’s – forcing voters who may still be undecided to do the grunt work of fact-checking, or missing one or both altogether:
During the one-hour town hall at 8:00 p.m. ET, Guthrie will moderate a conversation between Trump and a group of Florida voters. It will take place outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in accordance with guidelines set forth by health officials and consistent with all government regulations. NBC News said it has received a statement by Dr. Clifford Lane, Clinical Director at the National Institutes of Health, indicating that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci have reviewed Trump’s recent medical data, including a PCR test collected and analyzed by NIH on Tuesday, and have concluded ‘with a high degree of confidence’ that the president is ‘not shedding infectious virus.’
It is certainly no secret that Trump is a ratings bonanza, and more viewers equals more money (sorry, Emmy-winner Chris Hayes). It is also important that voters get to hear from both candidates with less than three weeks remaining until the election.
But why, WHY, is NBC giving Trump a free prime time slot to hurl insults, lie, and mislead the public – when they know damn well this is what Trump will do – in a crucial swing state with already lax COVID-19 restrictions and a surging pandemic?
What are the chances that Savannah Guthrie will do real-time fact-checking, or even get a word in edge-wise over the foghorn in chief if she tries?
How does this benefit anything but NBC’s bank account and Trump’s brittle, imploding ego?
Forget about Biden and the differences between him and Trump for a minute. This is bigger than that.
First, there is nothing new to be learned about or from Trump. He is not going to step into the ring saturated with some miraculous enlightenment on climate change, the pandemic, or any other issue that clashes with the reality he crafts for himself.
Second, Trump is an unremitting danger to public health. Despite having been hospitalized for his own COVID-19 infection, the president has sustained his admittedly false narrative about the dangers of the virus – in a state whose Trump-adulating governor, Republican Ron DeSantis – has led to ruin by ignoring science.
Third, and perhaps most disturbingly, is the synergistic complicity to Trump’s pathological indifferences to decency, human life, and truth that NBC must now own and for which it must face consequences.
And this is not even touching on Trump’s lifetime of perpetual fraud, racism, rape, tax crimes, and treason – all of which NBC has chosen to tacetly forgive.
Moments after NBC made its announcement, #BoycottNBC began trending on Twitter, and the blowback has been harsh.
#BoycottNBC is trending because their corporate overlord, #Comcast is good with giving Donald a town hall tomorrow night in Miami at the same time ABC has Biden’s Town Hall. I mean, come on, Trump didn’t want to do a virtual debate. How does he merit this kind of free air?
— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) October 14, 2020
Finally, you can get something for free in New York.
— The Penny Hoarder (@thepennyhoarder) May 10, 2020
THIS IS HOW the media plays trumps game & I’m sick & tired of it. I will be watching @ABC. trump refused to take part in the scheduled debate with Biden so @nbc is giving him a town hall at the exact same time Biden is on @ABC #boycottnbc
— Rabbi Jill Zimmerman (@RabbiJill) October 14, 2020
Today is a horrible day for credibility of real news media outlets. First, NBC schedules a Town Hall with Trump against Joe Biden's previously scheduled one making it clear its only about ratings not informing voters. Then real journalists amplify the BS NY Post story #BoycottNBC
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) October 14, 2020
I’m seeing lots of comments that @NBCNews has to do the trump TH bc “equal time.”
They don’t, tho, thx to Reagan’s FCC ending the Fairness Doctrine. That’s why we get endless, unanswered trump rally coverage.
Equal time only applies to ad buys.#BoycottNBC
— 𝚓𝚞𝚕𝚒𝚊 | mostly on hiatus ⚖️💛 (@Shinrinyoku_cat) October 14, 2020
Part of the rise up of Americans voting in record numbers to end this national nightmare needs to be the annihilation of the myth of the “left wing media.” No news org or journalist who depends on corporate ad revenue is progressive.
Congrats on trending @NBCNews 🙄. #boycottnbc pic.twitter.com/xwhCh31xfJ
— LyndaIBelieveWoolard she/her (@LyndaWoolard) October 14, 2020
Almost instantaneously, Twitter users pushed back against the newly scheduled programming, calling foul. “Do not watch Trump’s town hall event,” one person tweeted. “We need EVERYONE watching Joe Biden’s town hall. Do not give Trump the tv ratings. #BoycottNBC @ThilinduP pic.twitter.com/Oov5SgLyhP
— Thilindu Peiris (@ThilinduP) October 14, 2020
— Ellen Barkin (@EllenBarkin) October 14, 2020
If the media that we the people are supposed to entrust with keeping us informed is willfully aiding and abetting a criminal president, then our fleggling republic is assuredly heading toward truly dark times. But if NBC’s executives think that enlisting in Trump’s militia of propaganda and sedition is something the public is going to excuse, they are in for a rude awakening.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.