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Town hall ratings: Biden beats Trump in early figures for rival election events

The former vice president appears to have bested Donald Trump at his own game, according to early ratings released by the major networks

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 16 October 2020 18:48 BST
Trump falsely claims 85% of mask wearers catch covid

Former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to lead President Donald Trump’s ratings during their dueling town hall events both televised at the same time on Thursday night, according to early figures.

While Mr Biden’s ABC News event reportedly received an audience of 12.7 million, the president drew 10.4 million viewers to his town hall on NBC News that was scheduled following the cancellation of this week’s second presidential debate.

The figures were subject to significant changes as new data was released from broadcast affiliate channels throughout the day.

Still, the data appeared to show that Mr Trump’s move to effectively cancel the debates by refusing to have them conducted virtually due to his Covid-19 diagnosis worked against him.

As a president who is obsessed with his ratings, it was assumed Mr Trump would revel in reports the day after the town halls that showed him having a larger viewing audience than Mr Biden did during his event.

Mr Trump has routinely mocked the former vice president for hosting virtual events and limiting the size of his audiences at in-person rallies and campaign speeches in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

But early streaming data also appeared to show Mr Biden in the lead at Mr Trump’s own game, accruing more streaming viewers on the ABC News livestream than the president did on the NBC News livestream throughout the 8:00 p.m. hour, according to Variety.

The NBC News event was met with swift outcry from prominent actors on the network’s most popular TV shows like This Is Us, who said they were “devastated” by its decision to schedule the town hall at the same time as that of the former vice president.

Critics of the president’s town hall noted how Mr Biden was only participating in an ABC News town hall because Mr Trump refused to attend the debates virtually, despite having contracted Covid-19.

The president was forced to disclose his diagnosis after it was reported he tested positive just days after the first presidential debates, at a time when he was traveling across the country for fundraising events. It still remains unclear when the president knew he first tested positive for Covid-19.

Prior to the president’s town hall, petitions circulated online calling for NBC News to cancel the event. 

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