The Walt Disney-owned news unit plans to air a live “town hall” with President Trump and undecided voters on Tuesday, September 15, at 9 p.m. – just seven weeks before Election Day. The event will be televised by ABC and streamed by ABC News Live, and is the latest in a recent series of big “gets” by the news operation. George Stephanopoulos, the network’s chief anchor, will anchor the proceedings, which will include voters both in person and on a virtual basis.
Such an event can be a tricky one for a news outlet to handle. NBC News in September of 2016 held a town-hall style forum in which former anchor Matt Lauer held forth separately with both Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton under time constraints in a broadcast put out via NBC and MSNBC. The event drew 14.7 million viewers across both networks, but Lauer and the news outlet drew criticism for the way the anchor questioned both candidates.
ABC News lands the event just days after it was praised for nabbing an early joint interview with Democratic nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Stephanopoulos has had good success getting interviews with Trump – a feat that has been somewhat more difficult during his administration for every U.S. news outlet except Fox News Channel. In 2019, Stephanopoulos spent 30 hours with the 45th President as part of a special report prepared for ABC News “20/20.”
The town hall will take place in Philadelphia, ABC News said, and will be held in accordance with state and local government regulations, as well as guidelines set forward by health officials.
ABC News said it has offered to host a similar town hall with Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.