Trump refused to participate in a virtual second debate with Biden after getting the coronavirus, so Biden scheduled a town hall for that evening, Oct. 15, on ABC. Later, NBC News announced a town hall at the same time with Trump.
Early data from ratings group Nielsen shows that Biden’s town hall, which aired on one network, captured about 13.9 million viewers, per multiple reports. Meanwhile, Trump’s, which aired on three channels at once — NBC, CNBC and MSNBC — garnered about 13.1 million.
These figures, which account for TV viewers, do not factor in people who watched online livestreams.
Trump often brags about his TV ratings, though during the respective Democratic and Republican conventions this summer, Trump’s speech attracted fewer viewers than Biden’s.
The president and former vice president communicated vastly differing messages to Americans in their competing town halls. Trump refused to denounce QAnon and waffled on the value of face masks to fight COVID-19, while Biden dove into complex and often dry explanations of his proposals to combat climate change, support Black Americans and more.
“Turns out more people last night were interested in watching a leader with a clear plan to get this pandemic under control and Americans back to work, than the same combative, chaotic liar whose incompetence got us into this mess — regardless of how many channels he was on,” tweeted Biden’s campaign spokesperson TJ Ducklo.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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