Some former NBC News executives expressed outrage over the network’s decision to air a town hall featuring President Donald Trump — in competition with another network’s town hall with Joe Biden.
“As a former NBC executive, I am extremely embarrassed about NBC’s decision to run their Trump town hall the same day & time as ABC’s previously scheduled one with Biden,” Steve Spinner, a Democratic fundraiser who served as the company’s senior vice president from 1996-2000, wrote in one message on Twitter. “They spent more time ensuring Savannah Guthrie physical safety than doing what was right for voters. Shame.”
Guthrie, an anchor on NBC’s Today, is set to moderate the town hall with Trump, which is scheduled to take place in Miami at 8 p.m. Thursday. The network announced Wednesday the event would be held in the same 90-minute window as an ABC News town hall with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced a week earlier.
As part of their preparation for the town hall, NBC coordinated with Dr. Clifford Lane, the Clinical Director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, reviewed the president’s medical records and Covid-19 tests. They concluded that Trump is no longer shedding infectious virus, NBC said.
A debate between Trump and Biden originally scheduled to take place that evening was cancelled after the Commission on Presidential Debates abruptly announced it would be “virtual” rather than in-person. Trump said he was not interested in participating, and Biden subsequently did the same.
Other former executives weighed in on NBC’s decision as well.
“I am dismayed — more like disgusted — by NBC’s decision to air Trump’s ‘I won’t play by the rules so let me make my own rules’ town hall opposite Biden’s. Is this what the new leadership at NBC thinks is the right thing to do?” Cheryl Gould, a former vice president at the company, wrote in a post on Facebook.
Former VP of NBC News (in public Facebook post she asked friends to share) pic.twitter.com/HrT1R1E3GE
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) October 14, 2020
“This is a bad result for American voters, who should not be forced to choose which to watch,” wrote Mark Lukasiewicz, who also served the network as a senior vice president. “So much is still going wrong with how TV journalism copes, or still fails to cope, with @realDonaldTrump.”
“The point of a news organization is to serve the public,” former NBC Chief Digital Officer Vivian Schiller wrote in another message. “This is the opposite. NBC News could literally run this any other day, or any other time. Shameful.”
Current employees have expressed similar discontent. Yashar Ali reported on Twitter that more than a dozen sources at NBC, MSNBC and CNBC had expressed “frustration with and anger toward their employer for scheduling a town hall against Biden.”
Two cast members of the NBC show Connecting voiced their objections publicly, writing in a pair of identically-worded tweets that Trump had pulled out of the debate to “destabilize the election” and that they wanted the network to reschedule the town hall “so that America can watch both.”
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com