NBC's Decision To Have A Dual Town Hall Feels Nothing More Than A Ratings Grab

Photo Credit: Reuters

NBC has decided to do a town hall with President Trump tomorrow night at the same time as Joe Biden’s on ABC. Before we begin, let’s remember the reason that we are not having an actual presidential debate. It’s due to President Trump’s own choices that led to not only him getting infected with the Coronavirus, but an outbreak within The White House. His doctors declared that he is no longer contagious with the virus, however, will not tell the public when his last positive test is. He feels alive! He feels great and oddly wants to kiss everyone.

These words of ire are not only for the president’s choices, but also for the network that was the home of Trump’s show, The Apprentice for 13 years. What is the purpose of agreeing to a town hall the same night as his opponent? Well, it’s simple. A rating spike. A win. An influx of viewers who wants to see unpredictably. While it may end up as a win for the network, it’s a loss for journalism, accountability, and the presidential debate itself. With the election due to kick off in three weeks - scratch that, people are voting right now. Real-life consequences that range from climate change to women’s rights to choose to curb the virus.

Undeniably, people are going to watch this across party lines and the whole purpose of the debate will be invalid. See, you have to work and earn to get people to vote for you. Present plans and address current problems with ways to fix them. Let’s call this for what this is - networks love the dysfunction. They can’t get enough of it. It’s a drug. That’s why they bring pundits on masquerading as another viewpoint that collectively spouts conspiracy theories and doesn’t push back on them. They air every Trump rally uninterrupted where he echoes the same things:

“The virus will go away on its own.”

“We’re rounding the final corner.”

“China infected us with the virus.”

“The suburbs are in trouble from those spooky minorities.”

It’s a xenophobic, prejudice, science-denying infomercial that networks are more than happy to give airtime.

The presidential race should be decided at the polls once the people have gotten all the pertinent information and decide who is better for the country. It’s not quarterlies on a rating sheet the next day. At this rate, we might as well handle the debates like entertainment. Instead of primaries, let’s just have people vote for candidates each week like American Idol. “Well, America has spoken! Your time is up this week.” Or like Survivor - have candidates stay on an island for seven weeks, do challenges, and spill their secrets while we heat our dinners. It’s like that Black Mirror episode, “The Waldo Moment” - if the media keeps treating the wrong decisions as things to capitalize on, then the media has failed in providing the truth to the people.

Again, let’s not forget why we’re not having an actual debate tomorrow night. One candidate refused to follow his own CDC guidelines on Coronavirus. Then, refused to have a virtual debate (probably because he can be muted) even though Kennedy/Nixon had a remote debate in 1960. Because Trump canceled, Biden decided to do another town hall - but come on. It would be way too much for our media gatekeepers to hold somebody accountable for bad behavior right?

So, now we’re here. President Trump is still having packed rallies where many people are not wearing masks and NBC was champing at the bit to reward him for it. That’s one of the major reasons why this administration feels untouchable. Instead of our media calling things for what they are, they provide the getaway car for the heist every time.

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