After days of leaks about it in the media which seemed like trial balloons, NBC made the incredibly unpopular decision on Wednesday to push ahead with a Donald Trump town hall set to take place directly against Joe Biden’s existing town hall on ABC. The backlash was enough to make you question how NBC could possibly be so tone deaf, so villainous, and so self defeating.
After all, Trump’s refusal to participate in the second debate is the only reason Biden’s town hall exists. It would be bad enough for NBC to reward Trump for this by giving him a town hall at all. But putting Trump’s town hall up directly against Biden’s town hall isn’t just villainous, it’s a giant middle finger to the entire electoral process. Since when do competing networks force Americans to only tune in for one candidate or the other?
It got me thinking about how there has to be more to it. Even if certain executives at NBC are hoping Donald Trump will win the election, they can’t possibly think this stupid town hall stunt – which is roughly as likely to backfire as any other Trump stunt these days – is somehow magically going to help him win the election. And if this is just about ratings, NBC execs can’t possibly think that one night of decent ratings is worth the prolonged backlash and boycotts that this stunt could cause.
For NBC to do something this ridiculous, it has to be part of a larger plot. That got me thinking about how, before Trump illegitimately became President to begin with, NBC spent years propping him up as a fake billionaire on the Apprentice – and how if Trump loses the election, NBC will probably want him back for another reality show.
That would be an incredibly tone deaf, stupid, and perhaps network-killing move, considering how widely despised Donald Trump is, and how thoroughly the court of public opinion will try to destroy anyone who tries to rehabilitate him after he loses the election – and the fact that Trump will be indicted in New York and arrested after he loses anyway. But old habits die hard.
NBC just happens to be putting its old reality show partner Donald Trump on the air for a reality show-type stunt at a time when it appears he’s just a few weeks away from getting fired from his current gig. It really makes you think it’s intended to be more than just a one-off. The real story behind this stunt will come out. But we can’t imagine it’s as simple as just this town hall.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report