Alright, who's in the mood for a #thread about the DUELING TOWN HALLS problem?
First things first: TV networks are always competing to host town halls. It's not primarily about "ratings." Trump's town hall on ABC only had 3.8 million viewers! News divisions are proud of these events, proud to connect voters with the candidates, etc. It's in the TV news DNA.
NBC produced a town hall with Biden last week. Trump was offered the same opportunity. Even though he attacks NBC so much that some journos have been placed in danger... even though he calls it "Concast..." even though he lies incessantly... tenets of journalistic fairness apply.
When the 10/15 debate was scrapped, NBC execs and the Trump campaign plotted a town hall, and NBC's top priorities were 1) Covid safety 2) parity with Biden. Parity meant: Trump gets the same outdoor venue in Miami, the same 8 p.m. time slot, the same 60-minute amount of time.
BUT this brings us to the reason for this thread: ABC announced a town hall with Biden almost a week ago! So why in the world did NBC schedule Trump at the exact same time? Hang with me, there are reasons... wonky and unsatisfying reasons, perhaps, but...…
When ABC announced the Biden town hall, it did not specify a time slot. Execs at NBC expected that ABC would schedule Biden at 9pm, since ABC's TRUMP town hall had started at 9. NBC planners eyed the 8pm hour for Trump, since that's when their BIDEN event took place.
On Sunday, ABC said Biden would be on from 8 to 9:30pm. Reason: It had been planning to do pre-debate coverage at 8 that night. So the news division had blocked off the time. At this point, NBC was still in talks w/ the Trump camp, and could have shifted to 9/9:30/10, but didn't.
Why? The best answer I've heard from sources today is "parity:" Biden was on NBC at 8, so Trump will be on NBC at 8. But some NBC staffers are perturbed: "We're giving Trump exactly what he wants," a made-by-TV rivalry between the prez and the former VP…
Did the Trump campaign demand the head-to-head time slot? I don't know. Last Friday, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said "we're actually going to be on multiple networks at the same time" and "we're gonna have a much bigger audience than Joe," so that quote speaks for itself.
Will ABC News shift Biden's time slot? A rep declined to comment. But let's be clear -- ABC announced its plans several days before NBC did. Moving one of the town halls to a different day is not seen as a viable option, given the crowded schedules of the candidates, BTW.
Why don't ABC and NBC just re-air each other's events? I've asked. I know I'm a big TV news nerd but I think it would be epic and pro-viewer. Now, it is worth noting that both town halls will be available on-demand, so voters can watch whenever they want.
1 aspect of NBC's town hall that most people are missing: It will be the most substantive interview of Trump since he came down with COVID. He has been calling into pro-Trump shows but has steered clear of the press corps. @SavannahGuthrie will have plenty of time to ask him Q's.
Oh, and why is Biden's town hall on ABC 90 minutes while Trump on NBC is 60 minutes? Because Trump on ABC last month was 90 min. And Biden on NBC last week was 60 minutes. Parity. Balance.

This is prob the end of the thread but who ever knows anymore 🤷‍♂️…

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More from @brianstelter

10 Oct
On almost every stop of my book tour for, I've been asked about the future of Fox News. And I've talked about the battle for control of Fox that will erupt in the event of Rupert Murdoch's death. Time for a #thread...
Rupert's four adult children all hold power through their shares in the Murdoch Family Trust. In HOAX, I outlined a theory: Could James "partner with his sisters to wrest control of Fox Corp" from brother Lachlan, who currently runs the company?
On Page 313 I wrote, "sources said that Elisabeth would surely side with James, and Prudence likely would as well—three votes against one. Was this a serious possibility, or just a liberal fantasy? 'Time will tell,' a source said." It all hinged on the passing of the patriarch.
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7 Oct
Today is Fox News Channel's 24th birthday. Time for a #thread about how much has changed since Fox's founding on October 7, 1996...
Fox was #3 behind CNN and MSNBC. In a high school yearbook, it would have been voted "least likely to succeed." But as I write in, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes converted the jeers into fuel. Ailes vowed that Fox would become #1.
Here's how CNN covered Fox's launch day:

"For Murdoch, Fox News is the culmination of a long-held ambition -- building a U.S-based global television-news network."…
Read 13 tweets
29 Sep
Is this a "Fox News debate?" Well, no, because it is live on EVERY big channel and website tonight. But in a broader sense, yes it is. #Thread time...
Tonight's moderator, Chris Wallace, stands alone at Fox. His Sunday program primarily airs on broadcast, not Fox News. He has his own producers. He has said that he doesn't regularly watch the right-wing talk shows that make Fox #1 in the cable ratings.
But here's the thing: Everyone at Fox is affected, in some way, by the Trump-Fox merger. Everyone "feels" it. The pressure from the audience, the pressure from management, the expectation that Fox will be "fair" to Trump – and I don't mean "fair" in the good faith definition.
Read 8 tweets
29 Sep
I'm up next on @JohnKingCNN's program with headlines from my interview with Dr. Fauci... 📺
Fauci said he is concerned about misleading info getting to President Trump – "that sometimes things are said that are really taken either out of context or actually incorrect."…
Fauci reiterated the basics... the info that can't be repeated often enough... "Masks are critically important in preventing the transmission and acquisition of SARS coronavirus 2." Also: "We're nowhere near herd immunity as a nation."
Read 5 tweets
22 Sep
4 weeks since HOAX came out — and today I discovered it in the front window at Barnes & Noble Union Square — best surprise of the month. Right behind RAGE, appropriately! ImageImage
A book tour is like... well, I was going to say it's like a roller coaster 🎢 , but when the experience is entirely virtual from your home studio, that doesn't make much sense. But I'll tell you the best part...
The best part: Digesting the reviews and emails and comments from 📚 readers. Even the supremely critical ones. I learned things *about Fox and Trump* by reading the reviews. Gained ideas for future stories too.
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21 Sep
Is America slouching toward autocracy?

That's the Q I opened Sunday's @ReliableSources with. Almost every day there are new signs of democratic backsliding, new warnings from political scientists. Alarm bells are ringing for all to hear, like Trump mocking @AliVelshi's injury
Gloating about a reporter being hit by a rubber bullet is autocratic, not democratic. We all know this, don't we?…
A segment of the U.S. population, a minority, has long held authoritarian leanings. E.g.: Polls showing a preference for a strongman leader to provide protection. Trump has enlivened that segment. E.g.: Rallygoers cheered when Trump told the Velshi story.…
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