Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden attracted more viewers than President Donald Trump to their heavily anticipated dueling town halls Thursday.
Biden’s town hall, which was hosted by ABC, attracted more than 14 million viewers, according to estimates from Nielsen released by ABC News. Trump’s town hall, which was shown on NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, garnered about 13.5 million viewers. On NBC News alone, about 11 million people tuned into Trump’s town hall, Variety reported.
Biden scheduled his event after Trump withdrew from the second presidential debate scheduled for that night. The Commission on Presidential Debates had arranged for the second debate to be virtual after Trump tested positive for coronavirus. But Trump refused to face off via a videolink.
After the Biden campaign secured the ABC town hall, NBC News agreed to host a coinciding event for Trump — a decision that met fierce backlash both in and out of the company as being a gift to the Trump campaign. MSNBC’s head Phil Griffin was frustrated with NBC News President Noah Oppenheim’s agreeing to the event, POLITICO reported. MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes, whose show was skipped to accommodate the town hall, both hinted at their opposition to the event on their programs.
Still, NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie repeatedly grilled Trump on everything from QAnon to the coronavirus pandemic. During public and campaign events Friday, Trump repeatedly went after Guthrie as "totally crazy."
The first presidential debate drew an audience of about 73.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen, while the vice presidential debate drew about 57.9 million.
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