The chairman of NBCUniversal News Group has responded to the outrage from the Left for hosting a rival town hall event with President Donald Trump that will partially overlap with an ABC News event featuring Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“We share in the frustration that our event will initially air alongside the first half of ABC’s broadcast with Vice President Biden,” said Chairman Cesar Conde in a statement obtained by CNN, adding: “Our decision is motivated only by fairness, not business considerations.”
Conde explained that the decision to offer Trump the 8PM time slot on October 15, the original date for the second presidential debate, was a matter of fairness to the Trump campaign, as NBC News had previously aired a town hall with Biden at the same time earlier in October.
“If we were to move our town hall with President Trump to a later time slot we would be violating our commitment to offer both campaigns access to the same audience and the same forum,” said Conde in the statement. “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.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, over 100 actors, producers, and writers, some at the network, signed a letter criticizing the decision to host the events at the same time.
“This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy,” wrote the letter. “President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission. By agreeing to air his town hall as counterprogramming opposite Vice President Biden’s town hall on ABC, you are enabling the President’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public.”
The second U.S. presidential debate was canceled last week after the Commission on Presidential Debates, which hosts the contests, announced that the event would be hosted virtually instead of in-person as originally planned.
The change prompted Trump to say that he wouldn’t participate and the Biden campaign to schedule its own separate event for the same day. The Trump campaign also called for an extra debate to make up for the lost one, although Biden’s team declined.
Complicating the uncertainty about the future of the debate was the controversy surrounding C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully, the moderator of the second debate, who initially claimed his Twitter account had been hacked after he was called out for asking Anthony Scaramucci through social media whether he should respond to Trump.
While the tweet contained no additional context, Scully has since admitted to lying about the hacking attempt, saying in a statement Thursday afternoon: “For several weeks, I was subjected to relentless criticism on social media and in conservative news outlets regarding my role as moderator for the second presidential debate, including attacks aimed directly at my family. This culminated on Thursday, October 8th when I heard President Trump go on national television twice and falsely attack me by name. Out of frustration, I sent a brief tweet addressed to Anthony Scaramucci. The next morning when I saw that this tweet had created a new controversy, I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked.”
“These were both errors in judgement for which I am totally responsible. I apologize,” he said.
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