Today should have been the day of the second presidential debate, and after the first one held late last month, we don’t think we were the only ones who are relieved the follow-up to the event charitably called “the worst debate in U.S. history” by numerous observers like Politico, was cancelled. Instead, both President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden held competing town halls in the same time slot, on different major television networks.
NBC came under fire both externally and within for its decision to schedule its Trump town hall in the same slot as Biden’s (via Politico), but as it turns out, it might have been the right call, because social media crowned NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie winner in tonight’s duel of the town halls. She was praised for having the sass to ask the questions whose answers most of us wanted to know. As author Susan Glasser put it: “A shout out to @SavannahGuthrie, who is standing her ground and sticking up for the right of independent journalists to ask real questions of a President even when he is spewing crazy conspiracy theories and untruths.” Another twitter user said: “A master class from @SavannahGuthrie in coming prepared with the facts, following up where appropriate, and holding a public official accountable.” A third tweeted: “Tonight @SavannahGuthrie represented her friends and colleagues @TODAYshow and @NBCNews splendidly. Proud. Truth to power.”
'It's not like you're someone's crazy uncle': Guthrie
During the NBC town hall, Savannah Guthrie asked the president why he retweeted a conspiracy theory that Joe Biden orchestrated to have Navy Seals cover up the fake death of Osama Bin Laden and then asked, “Why would you send a lie like that to your followers?” Trump responded: “That was a retweet. That was the opinion of somebody. That was a retweet. I’ll put it out there, people can decide for themselves and take a position.” Guthrie interjected: “I don’t get that. You’re the president. You’re not, like, someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever” (via Twitter).
The comment sent social media into a frenzy, with one user commenting: “Savannah Guthrie for the win. Trump talking about retweeting conspiracy theories and Savannah nails him…'” Another user said: “When Trump told @SavannahGuthrie that RT’ng a Q conspiracy was just sharing ‘an opinion of somebody’ that he didn’t know much about, she said, ‘I don’t get that. You’re the President. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.’ GET HIM, GUTHRIE. -H”
Mary Trump, who famously broke with her uncle Donald and wrote a tell-all book, had just one thing to say on the subject of crazy uncles: “Actually…”
'$400 million is a peanut': Trump
Savannah Guthrie is also credited with drawing out an admission from the president that he is more than $400 million in debt. He said the money owed came from working in the real estate business. “When you look at vast properties like I have, and they’re big and they’re beautiful and they’re well-located, when you look at that, the amount of money, $400 million, is a peanut, it’s extremely underleveraged,” he said. “And it’s leveraged with normally normal banks. Not a big deal.” He also said some of his loans were “favors to institutions that wanted to loan me money.” The New York Times, which focused on the exchange, was the first to report that the president’s finances were problematic, and that he had hundreds of millions of dollars worth of debt that would be due for payment.
The reactions were swift, with one Twitter user saying: “[Savannah] Guthrie just asked Trump who he owes $421 million in loans to. He rambled without answering. Guthrie pressed him again. He responds by talking about how badly the IRS treats him. Guthrie says just release your taxes. He rambles. This town hall is awful for Trump. Awful.” A second highlighted another part of the exchange, tweeting: “Savannah Guthrie points out there is no Law prohibiting Pres. Trump from releasing his tax returns during an audit. No, Trump says, ‘except common sense and intelligence.'”
How Savannah Guthrie did depends on who you support
Not everyone was impressed with Savannah Guthrie’s performance at the Trump town hall, and some took to Twitter to complain. One tweeted: “Shame on Ms. Guthrie. She lacks professionalism and respect for our President. We shouldn’t expect anything else from CNN (sic), but I was hopeful.” A second laid into Guthrie, saying, “She wasn’t a moderator. She was a participant, was rude and disrespectful to the POTUS! She was horrible!” A third said: “I thought it was a town hall. Why does Savanah feel the need to ‘pepper’ Trump with questions. She came across very biased.” One user sniffed a “scam”: “I thought it was supposed to be a town hall instead of a screechy harpy fest for Savanah Guthrie. NBC sold us and the ‘town folks’ a bill of goods.”
And to those tweets, there were also responses. “Oh, please, she pepper sprayed him with questions designed to hurt him, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the issues confronting Americans. She interrupted him repeatedly before he’d barely start an answer, and was outclassed by every one of voters allowed to ask a question,” one Guthrie supporter tweeted. Another said: “Savannah did a great job. She brought out all the madman’s lies and nutcase theories about himself and his imaginary accomplishments. His taxes talk was totally ridiculous. I was actually laughing at his sweating trying to defend himself with lie after lie.”
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