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TV CRITIC'S CORNER

Trump and Biden to go head-to-head, on separate networks

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (pictured at an Oct. 5 town hall in Miami) will appear at an ABC town hall Thursday night.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (pictured at an Oct. 5 town hall in Miami) will appear at an ABC town hall Thursday night.Washington Post photo by Demetrius Freeman

The plans for Thursday night’s second presidential debate were scrapped, due to Donald Trump’s unwillingness to participate in a virtual event. It was going to be formatted as a town hall with Steve Scully from C-SPAN moderating.

But both Trump and Joe Biden are still going to appear on TV on Thursday night; they’ll just be participating in separate events. That ought to guarantee no interrupting. Last week, Biden agreed to do a town hall in Philadelphia with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, which will air Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC. And now Trump is going to do a town hall on the same night, at the same time, on NBC.

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That’s right, Trump will be appearing on NBC, the network that has regularly taken abuse from the president, who has given NBC’s parent company, Comcast, the nickname “Concast.” “Today” coanchor Savannah Guthrie is going to moderate the event, which will take place in Miami.

NBC and Trump negotiated the town hall with a focus on COVID-19 safety protocols, with the network requiring outside proof of Trump’s condition. According to NBC, Clifford Lane, a clinical director at the National Institutes of Health, has concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that the president is “not shedding infectious virus.” The event will be held outside, Guthrie and Trump will be at least 12 feet apart, and the masked audience also will be socially distanced.

By the way, Trump and Biden are still scheduled to meet for a final debate in Nashville next Thursday, moderated by NBC News’s Kristen Welker.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.