Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie moderated a town hall with President Donald Trump on NBC October 15 and is garnering a fair amount of praise for her handling of the situation, which once again saw POTUS avoiding answering questions and going off on rambling tangents.
Before the town hall even aired, it was surrounded by controversy. The second presidential debate was supposed to be October 15, but when the president contracted COVID-19 the Presidential Debate Commission decided to change to a virtual format. Trump refused to participate. In the interim, ABC scheduled a town hall with Democratic opponent Joe Biden—who had agreed to the virtual debate format. Trump then scheduled a separate town hall for the same night. A number of major Hollywood players—including the cast of This Is Us, Law & Order: SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay, JJ Abrams, and Ava DuVernay—wrote an open letter to NBC condemning the move. “You are enabling the president’s bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public,” they wrote.
As for the town hall itself, Guthrie skillfully interjected Trump’s rants with pointed follow-ups. For example, she pushed Trump to once and for all denounce QAnon, the right-wing conspiracy theory group. The president replied, “I don’t know about QAnon. What I do hear about it, they are very strongly against pedophilia.”
She further pushed the issue by asking about a false QAnon-related conspiracy theory that claimed Biden tried to have the Navy Seal Team who killed Osama bin Laden taken out as a cover-up because bin Laden wasn’t really dead. “That was a retweet, I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves,” he said. She replied, “I don’t get that. You’re the president. You’re not, like, someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.”
At one point Trump referred to Guthrie’s questions as “so cute”—which, ick. “Why aren’t you asking Joe Biden questions about why doesn’t he condemn Antifa?” he said. “Because you’re here,” she replied, and he came back with “So cute” in a sarcastic tone.
After the town hall, the Trump campaign released the following statement: “President Trump soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate. President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie’s attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room.”
Overall, Savannah Guthrie got positive reviews on Twitter:
The next and final presidential debate is slated to take place on October 22.
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