President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will be competing for viewership for their own, respective town halls tonight after their debate originally planned by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates was rejected by President Trump.
After President Trump tested positive for coronavirus, the Commission announced that the second presidential debate would move to a virtual format with each candidate participating remotely. President Trump, however, refused to participate, calling a virtual debate “ridiculous.” “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” the President said. “It’s not what debating is all about.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates subsequently decided to cancel the debate originally scheduled for tonight, citing “a series of statements concerning” each campaign’s “willingness to participate in a virtual debate,” according to their statement.
“It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22,” the statement said.
The Biden Campaign scheduled a town hall with ABC News soon after the official debate fell through, reported CNN. And, just as the controversy seemed over, NBC News announced that they would also be hosting a town hall, this one for the Trump Campaign, during the same hour as Joe Biden’s town hall. NBC faced sharp backlash from prominent journalists, including Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric and Jeff Greenfield, for scheduling the town hall in direct competition with ABC, reported The Washington Post.
“Y’all sign my checks of late but I’m disgusted by my home network giving Trump a platform for fear mongering, bigotry and disinformation,” wrote Katie Couric, former host of NBC’s “Today” show, on Twitter.
Now, despite all the drama leading up to them, there are two town halls to look forward to tonight. You can watch Joe Biden’s town hall on ABC, or stream it through ABC News Live, starting at 8pm ET. It is scheduled to last one hour plus a half hour of post-event coverage. The event will take place at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
President Trump’s town hall will also air at 8pm ET, but will only last one hour. The event will be moderated by NBC’s “Today” Show co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie at an outdoor area of the Perez Art Museum in Miami. Guthrie will be sitting 12 feet away from the President and officials at the National Institute of Health have assured the public that President Trump is “not shedding infectious virus.” You can watch it on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC or stream it through NBC News NOW, reports the Verge.
The third presidential debate, scheduled for October 22nd at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, will go as planned as both presidential candidates have agreed to attend.