Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden won the ratings race against President Donald Trump in opposing town halls that aired at the same time Thursday night.
Biden’s 90-minute session on ABC was watched by 13.9 million viewers, while Trump’s hour-long event, which aired on NBC, as well as MSNBC and CNBC, brought in 13.1 million viewers across the networks combined. On NBC, the town hall drew 10.7 million viewers, with another 1.7 million watching on MSNBC and 671,000 on CNBC.
Trump and Biden were originally supposed to take part in a town hall debate, but that event was canceled after Trump refused to participate in a virtual version despite having testing postive for COVID-19.
Ahead of Trump’s town hall, NBC received backlash for allowing the president a platform in the same time slot as Biden, whose town hall was announced first after Trump dropped out the debate. NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde responded by saying the decision was made to be fair to the president. "We aired a town hall with Vice President Biden on October 5 at 8 p.m. If we were to move our town hall with President Trump to a later timeslot we would be violating our commitment to offer both campaigns access to the same audience and the same forum. We hope voters will watch both discussions—ours will be available at any time, free and on-demand on YouTube, Peacock and all our digital news platforms.”
“Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie grilled Trump on his pandemic response, as well as asking him to denounce white supremacy. Over on ABC, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos questioned Biden on whether the Democrats will look to add justices to the Supreme Court, among other things.