Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden edged out President Donald Trump in the duel of the network town halls on Thursday.

Nielsen data showed that Biden's event on ABC, running from 8 to 10 p.m EDT, averaged 13.9 million viewers. Trump, whose event aired from 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern, attracted an average of 13.06 million viewers across the NBC broadcast network and cable channels MSNBC and CNBC. In the hour where the two candidates were head to head, Biden led Trump as well with 14.1 million viewers.

The numbers are not likely to please Trump, who often touts his ability to draw large TV audiences.

The head-to-head scheduling of the events led to harsh criticism of NBC, which offered Trump the same time period as Biden's event (set last week) — thereby forcing viewers to choose which candidate to watch live. NBC's rationale for the move was that a later hour would have given Trump access to a larger available TV audience, as viewership increases over the course of the evening; the network's Oct. 5 town hall with Biden also aired at 8 p.m.

NBC News executives asked ABC to change the time period of its event, but they were turned down, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

NBC News noted that an additional 1 million viewers watched Trump's town hall through video-on-demand platforms. Another 3.1 million viewers watched some part of it on the NBC News Now live stream.

The town hall skirmish developed when the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled its Oct. 15 event after Trump refused to debate Biden from a remote location. The commission's demand was made as a health precaution after the White House announced on Oct. 1 that Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.

The dispute resulted in two events, with Trump in Miami to take questions from voters and "Today" co-anchor Savannah Guthrie. Biden met with voters in Philadelphia where the proceedings were led by ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Both town hall events were given positive reviews by pundits and critics.

Guthrie, a former litigator, was widely praised for her persistent follow-ups on Trump's answers regarding his handling of the coronavirus and on why he has retweeted extreme and discredited conspiracy theories spread by the right-wing group QAnon. Guthrie thrived despite being put in the hot seat by the networks' scheduling conflict. Pundits, former NBC News figures and actors who work for the network's entertainment division lashed out on news programs and social media over the way the division's executives handled the event.

When Trump said he knew little about QAnon and recirculated their views on Twitter so that people could decide for themselves, Guthrie shot back: "You're the president. You're not like someone's crazy uncle who can retweet whatever."

She also pressed Trump on when he had been tested for COVID-19 ahead of the Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland; the president said he did not remember.

Stephanopoulos subjected Biden to rigorous questioning on whether he will expand the number of Supreme Court justices in response to the Republican-controlled Senate's push to get Trump's nominee Amy Coney Barrett confirmed just days before the election. Biden said he would let voters know his stand after the Senate votes.

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(12) comments

Reader1954

you know people watched Biden only to see him mess up. You know, like watching NASCAR for the wrecks

KellyAlzan

Like when trump couldn’t tell savanna what his plan for health care is? You mean mess up like that?

bosco

It's on the White House website under "Executive Order on An America-First Healthcare Plan".

[ninja]

awteam2000

Bosco - Did you read his “executive order”? Help me out. Where’s the plan? What stands out to you?

DickD

Trump spent all the time arguing and interupting Biden was telling the world why the U.S. would be better with him as POTUS.

bosco

It was Guthrie doing the interrupting. She would ask a question and the interrupt while Trump was responding. That went on for 20 minutes.

BTW, we set the DVR for both townhalls so as not to miss anything. [ninja]

phydeaux994

Good, so you can go back and watch it over and over bosco. What did Trump say that was new? Except that 85% of people that wear masks get COVID-19. Let’s see, say half the population wear masks, 165,000,000 x .85 = 140,000,000 should have gotten it so far. But less than 8,000,000 have gotten it. He’s off by 132,000,000. Just hearing that, anybody, including you bosco, would instantly figure out that that statement was beyond stupid. But not, “I’m the smartest man in history” Trump. He insisted it was true when Savanna challenged him because “he heard that”. That’s your man bosco. If he “hears” those things from QAnon THEY ARE TRUE DAMMIT!! But....he doesn’t know who QAnon is, he only gets briefed on Radical Left Groups like ANTIFA, even though he just praised “his” FBI for breaking up a the Radical Right Wolverine Group that was planning to kidnap and/or murder the Governors of the 2 States he said to “Liberate Michigan” “Liberate Virginia”. The Wolverines took that as an ORDER. The President of the United States words MATTER to some people bosco. You and gab I just can’t figure out. You don’t talk like CD and jsk, although you agree with them a lot. But you just don’t talk like people that eat the Purple Ooze like they do. 🤷🤷🤷

MRS M

"It was Guthrie doing the interrupting". Awwwwww, poor Donald the victim, enabled here by his sorry supporters. .Reality check, bosco. Guthrie is an attorney who knows Trump's evasions, tired talking points, repeated lies, and well-practiced diversions, on ANY question of substance, backwards and forwards, as does ALL of America at this point. Guthrie is entitled to try to get Trump to answer questions put to him without the usual long-winded bloviating of........................nothingness, and she gets an A+ for trying. She was pleasant, but direct and on target. After all, Baby Trump was given 60 minutes of free air time for refusing to play by the rules preset by both campaigns. (shocker!!!!, right?....Trump the infantile narcissist refusing to play by preset rules???) If you don't want to see Trump's stream of lyin' bloviations broken through with some challenges to him......stick with his 2 hour call-in's to FoxStateTV, where he's given free reign to spread his lies, with the "commentators" nodding off in agreement, like the gal over his right shoulder at the NBC town hall. Which, of course, is why Trump steers away from any media other than FOX, who are willing to treat him like the fat and crazy monarch-wanna-be he thinks he is.

pittsmom04

Not many people have live TV to tune into NBC or ABC. So maybe because they weren't showing Trump's anywhere? Yet I could find Biden's town hall literally everywhere I looked for Trump's which I never found. Hulu, YouTubeTV, Netflix.............shocking, I know

Hayduke2

What????

Dwasserba

Kids watch "tv" on laptops.

DickD

Why couldn't you find it? No problem with Comcast. You were using Hulu? Did you wonder if maybe that was the problem? Very few people have your problem.

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