NBC's Thursday evening town hall with President Donald Trump is continuing to face pushback. Scheduled to take place at the same time that Joe Biden is set to participate in a town hall to air on ABC, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow voices criticism for her parent company during Wednesday night’s episode The Rachel Maddow Show.
Interviewing Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Maddow did not directly criticize NBC's decision but instead made her disapproval clear in the questions she asked the California Senator. Addressing the event, Maddow asked Harris if she is "as mad as everybody else is that NBC is doing a town hall with President Trump tomorrow instead of the debate, at the same time that Vice President Biden's going to be on ABC?" Harris, however, sidestepped giving an answer, stating, "I'm not touching that," according to Variety. Maddow went on to ask if "the networks refuse to give the president other opportunities for airtime if he's the one who refuses the chance to debate," to which Harris responded, "I'm not going to tell the networks what to do, but I can tell you that I know who I'll be watching, so there you go."
The town hall, set to be held outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami and moderated by Today show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, is in place of the second presidential debate. That debate was initially scheduled to take place Thursday night. However, the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled it after the president objected to new plans for a virtual format amid his coronavirus diagnosis. Prior to NBC's announcement of the town hall, ABC had announced that it would hold a town hall with Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, in Philadelphia in place of the debate. NBC's decision to host its town hall on the same night and at the same time as ABC immediately sparked pushback and Maddow was not alone in voicing disdain for the network's decision
That same evening, in a monologue given on his show, CNN Tonight, host Don Lemon dubbed the move an "embarrassing ratings ploy." He said the network had been manipulated by the president, posing the question, "How does that help the American people?" and "How does that inform the electorate, by putting those two people on at the same time and making people choose from one to the other?" He added that he was "shocked and surprised" that NBC "would allow the president of the United States to do their programming and manipulate them into doing this. It is embarrassing."
Both town halls are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET, with NBC's event with Trump scheduled to last an hour and ABC's with Biden set to run 90-minutes. The third and final presidential debate is scheduled to go on as planned on Thursday, Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.