Savannah Guthrie Recalls Combative Town Hall With Trump: ‘I Believe That the Viewers Expect Us to Ask the Questions’

By A.J. Katz 

If you have been surfing media Twitter over these past few days, you’ve likely noticed the entire NBC News family praising the New York Times profile of Savannah Guthrie that published over the weekend.

The profile looks at Guthrie’s unique life journey— beginning with what was a difficult childhood in Tucson, Az., (her father was often unemployed and eventually died when she was 16), all the way through the present.

Readers will remember how Guthrie earned critical acclaim for her grilling of President Trump during an October town Hall in Miami.


From the Times:

Looking back on the crucial turning points of this dizzying election, voters — and historians — will surely remember Ms. Guthrie in a hot-pink pantsuit sitting 12 feet away from a president, not settling for his stock answers on the Supreme Court or QAnon or health care, demanding to know why Mr. Trump insisted on retweeting conspiracy theories.

“I don’t get that,” she said that night. “You’re the president. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.”

(Reflecting on the line, Ms. Guthrie said: “I’m shocked at myself. I don’t even know if it’s a good thing that I said it. That just came out.”)

However, the town hall wasn’t exactly Guthrie’s “big break.” Yes, her performance may have surprised people used to seeing her doing some of the lighter stuff on Today show, it’s worth remembering that Guthrie has served as an NBC News White House correspondent, filled in on Meet the Press, and anchored NBC Nightly News. She’s a Georgetown Law grad who started her national TV news career at Court TV.

Regarding that infamous NBC News town hall with the president— Many media figures (and Democrats) had criticized the network going into the town hall for scheduling its event in the same slot as ABC’s town hall with Joe Biden, an event which had been scheduled days prior.

“Having dueling town halls is bad for democracy — voters should be able to watch both and I don’t think many will,” tweeted Katie Couric.

The former Today co-host was far from the only TV personality to criticize NBC News. There were social-media meltdowns and petitions, including one signed by a some of the network’s own prime time stars, including those from This Is Us, and Law & Order: SVU.

NBC’s town hall with Trump ended up earning fewer viewers than ABC’s town hall with Biden.

Press was bad, and understandably so; yet despite all of that, Guthrie seemingly saved the network from further criticism with a strong performance.

Once the dialogue started, she would not offer Mr. Trump a chance to riff as he had in his rallies, and she peppered him with rapid, well-informed follow-ups. When he demeaned Ms. Guthrie’s approach, calling it, “so cute,” she refused to acknowledge the slight.

“Believe it or not, I don’t like confrontation,” Ms. Guthrie said. “In fact, I kind of would like to avoid it. But I also don’t like talking points. I believe that the viewers expect us to ask the questions.”