President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE on Thursday tore into NBC hours before appearing on the network for a town hall forum, preemptively complaining that he would be treated unfairly.
The president indicated he didn't mind agreeing to do the town hall because it amounted to "a free hour on television." But he previewed the event during a rally in North Carolina by swiping at moderator Savannah Guthrie and other network anchors.
"So you know, I’m being set up tonight, right. I’m doing this town hall with Con-cast," Trump said, mocking the name of NBC's parent company. "So I’m doing it and it’s NBC. The worst."
Trump mocked network anchor Lester Holt and political director Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Clyburn says he 'wholeheartedly' endorses Biden's voting rights remarks Romney: I never got a call from White House to discuss voting rights MORE, while lamenting that Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMacro grid will keep the lights on Pelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE's town hall on the network earlier this month was "meant for children."
"And so they asked me if I'd do it, and I figured what the hell, we’ve got a free hour on television," Trump said.
"And we have Savannah Guthrie," he added. "She’s always lovely, isn’t she? But I figure why not."
The president's town hall in Florida will take place at the same time as Biden's town hall in Philadelphia, which is being broadcast on ABC. The dueling events are taking place in lieu of the second presidential debate, which had been scheduled for Thursday night in Miami.
The debate was scrapped after Trump refused to agree to a virtual setup. The Commission on Presidential Debates had announced the debate would be a virtual event after Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
Now, the two men will hold competing events. The overlap has drawn blowback from some NBC talent.
Trump has a long relationship with NBC, which aired "The Apprentice" for 14 seasons. The president has been interviewed by the network's anchors several times since announcing his first White House bid in 2016.
The decision to forgo a debate this week carries risks for Trump, who is trailing Biden in swing-state polls with less than three weeks until Election Day.
"They’re doing him on ABC," Trump said Thursday of Biden's event. "And actually I'd like to watch him because I’d like to see if he can make it through the program."