Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s town hall Thursday on ABC easily surpassed the numbers for Trump’s town hall on three NBC affiliates.
The Trump town hall was shown on NBC and two of its affiliates, CNBC and MSNBC, but even when those channels were included in the numbers, Biden still led Trump.
Trump’s town hall on NBC averaged 10.6 million viewers. On MSNBC, Trump reached 1.74 million viewers and about 671,000 viewers on CNBC. Meanwhile, Biden’s town hall, which only appeared on ABC, received more than 13 million viewers — meaning Trump’s entire audience across NBC’s networks totaled about 1 million fewer viewers than Biden’s town hall.
According to CNN, even Biden’s own campaign expected Trump to get more viewers. Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller also thought the night would be Trump’s, saying “we’re gonna have a much bigger audience than Joe.”
However, the ratings only reflected people who watched the event on television. Both town halls were also live-streamed to phones, computers, and other devices.
The news couldn’t be worse from Trump, who loves to tout his high ratings. When he was on The Apprentice, Trump regularly bragged and exaggerated the show’s numbers. During his first term as president, he has largely done the same, congratulating Fox News for its high ratings and attributing them back to him.
The reviews of Trump’s performance also weren’t positive. When Savannah Guthrie pushed Trump to denounce White supremacists, Trump became frustrated, cutting Guthrie off and suggested he was being attacked.
“You always do this,” Trump said. “You’ve done this to me. I’ve denounced White supremacy for years but you always do it, you always start off with the question, you didn’t ask Biden if he denounced ANTIFA.”
Trump also denied downplaying the coronavirus before the pandemic hit the U.S. when an audience member asked him about it during the town hall.
“I didn’t downplay it, I actually in many ways up-played it in terms of our response.”
When Guthrie asked about Trump pushing herd immunity and added only 10% of the country has contracted the virus meaning herd immunity would lead to millions more dying, Trump blamed China.
“The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. We did the right thing. We were expected to lose two million and two hundred thousand people and maybe more than that,” Trump said. “We’re at 210,000 people, one person is too much, it should’ve never happened because of China, it happened because of China and you have to get that and understand that.”
The separate town halls were scheduled after Trump contracted the coronavirus and refused to participate in a virtual debate because he did not want to “sit behind a computer,” which would give the moderator the ability to “cut you off whenever they want.”