NBC will host City Hall with President Trump at the same time as Joe Biden’s City Hall on ABC. The two will compete on Thursday in various networks after the second presidential debate was canceled.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
When President Trump withdrew from the second presidential debate, scheduled for tomorrow night, over demands to participate in practice, the ABC quickly intervened to fill the gap. ABC has announced it will hold a town hall with the president’s opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, tomorrow night. The debate was then scheduled. Today, NBC announced that it will set up its own town hall with Trump on the same date tomorrow and starts at exactly the same time, 20:00 East. The duel of the network mayors is underway. And NPR media correspondent David Falkenflick joins us to help us make sense of it all.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.
CHANG: So why would NBC News even make a decision like this? Like, how do they explain it right now?
FOLKENFLICK: Well, they point to the obvious. They say, look; there was a huge hole in the president̵
CHANG: But NBC gets a bit of a hit for its decision, right?
FOLKENFLICK: Yes. I mean, what you’re essentially doing is, you know, what you need to offer the public a chance to see the other candidate – that’s ABC Vice President Biden. Let’s find time for President Trump to do that. You make people choose. And you know, symbolically, what Trump did in the first debate was the steamer Biden. In fact, he talked about it almost all the time. In a metaphorical way, this is exactly what is happening here. Trump is trying to talk to Joe Biden again, this time on another network. In fact, there are campaign sources talking to The Daily Beast who, The Daily Beast reports, say the president wants just that. He looks at NBC. It considers a network that has sister networks on which it can also operate. Think about CNBC, MSNBC, other ways to get it. And he says, you know, if I take all of these together, I’m going to beat Biden’s ratings and crush his face (ph), which is essentially driven by a rating rating that reflects Trump’s time on television. It’s no coincidence that his success on television was originally with ABC’s “The Apprentice” – excuse me – on NBC itself.
CHANG: All right. So where does that leave us all, as viewers, voters? What should we set up tomorrow night?
FOLKENFLICK: Well, that’s a funny footnote. If I’m not mistaken, NBC and ABC were once called the red and blue networks. And viewers who want to think about watching presidential candidates tomorrow night will have to choose red and NBC and President Trump or blue and ABC and former Vice President Joe Biden if they want to watch it live. You can now watch it on various streaming offers from NBC. But think about it. NBC News is the prestigious element of NBC, and presidential coverage should be the prestigious element of NBC News. And here, instead of what should be a public service, what was a debate, and is now supposed to be these two town halls, they make you make program decisions, counterprogramming against one of their best rivals – commercial choice in some ways, even if they do not benefit from it; branding, not a public service we might expect.
CHANG: This is NPR media correspondent David Falkenflick.
Thank you, David.
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