Two dueling town hall events between President Donald Trump and former VP Joe Biden were held on television instead of the scheduled debate. Donald Trump’s town hall was held in Miami on NBC with Savannah Guthrie. Joe Biden’s town hall took place in Philadelphia and aired on ABC with George Stephanopoulos. Although the events were held at the same time, and both of the men are currently running for President, they were conducted in totally opposite ways.
Important information to understand here is that George Stephanopoulos was the Press Secretary for Bill Clinton during his days as President. Savannah Guthrie’s husband, Michael Feldman, was the traveling Chief of Staff for Al Gore’s Presidential Campaign back in the year 2000. Reports emerged of NBC staff, from top roles all the way down to the bottom, being upset that they were hosting the Trump town hall. Make no mistake, both of these town hall events were exemplary of the proverbial “swamp” in DC and were conducted as such.
Donald Trump and Savannah Guthrie essentially had a debate on stage. It was the equivalent of a “do-over” from Trump’s first debate. But instead of Joe Biden facing off against the President, it was Savannah Guthrie. She grilled the President on a variety of topics including white supremacy, taxes, and QAnon. Essentially, the same questions that he has been asked and that he’s answered countless times before. A town hall event is supposed to focus on questions from the audience of mostly undecided voters, and there was some of that during both town hall events. However, Donald Trump faced the most kickback from the host herself.
Joe Biden’s town hall was much more laid back. All slow-pitch softball questions that he was able to bunt with a wiffle bat. Stephanopoulos rarely challenged the former Vice President on any question and when he did, he would do it in a very soft and non-confrontational way. Biden faced tougher questions from the crowd than Stephanopoulos. One young black man asked him about the “you ain’t black comments” and if he would do more than that to gain his vote. Biden rambled on for what felt like an eternity before Stephanopoulos jumped in to get him back on track and move to the next question.
Each town hall lasted for about an hour and from a production standpoint, they looked good. From the standpoint of unbiased journalism, NBC and ABC both fail but for different reasons. NBC failed because Savannah Guthrie just basically aired out the grievances that she, along with her co-workers, has against the President. ABC failed because there was a clear attempt to protect the VP and avoid any pressing questions.
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