Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

The marquee outside NBC Studios in New York City. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'Craven Ratings Stunt:' NBC Rebuked for Booking Trump Town Hall Opposite Biden's on Rival ABC

Calls for #NBCblackout on Thursday night after network accused of "caving to the Trumpian impulses the network helped hone."

Julia Conley

Entertainers and journalists who have worked with NBC in the past and present were among those who expressed outrage on Thursday over the network's decision to air a town hall event with President Donald Trump, with many critics calling for a viewer "blackout" at the network.

After Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign called for the second presidential debate to be held virtually following Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis earlier this month, the president said the event would be a "waste of time" and the debate was canceled, leading ABC to plan a 90-minute town hall event featuring the former vice president, beginning at 8:00 pm Eastern. 

"You are enabling the president's bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public. We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state."
—100+ current and former NBC employees

NBC Universal News Group chairman Cesar Conde announced Wednesday that the network would air its own town hall with Trump beginning at the same time, a decision that's being decried by NBC staffers and media critics as one that plays into the ratings-focused president's hands.

As the Daily Beast reported, critics and employees at the network—the longtime home of Trump's reality shows, "The Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice"—say the president will likely bring high ratings to the network as Americans tune in to watch the spectacle of Trump answering questions and spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and other issues. 

"This decision is not just journalistically incorrect, but morally incorrect," said television writer Nell Scovell. 

Columbia Journalism Review editor Kyle Pope compared the situation to the first presidential debate during which Trump shouted over Biden and Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

NBC News executives are apparently unconcerned about voters' ability to hear from both candidates as Election Day approaches, Pope tweeted, calling the programming decision "a craving ratings stunt, caving to the Trumpian impulses the network helped hone."

The president promoted his town hall at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina by accusing the network of previously hosting a town hall for Biden that was "a joke," referring to NBC's parent network as "Con-cast," and claiming he's being "set up" by NBCUniversal.

"Excellent programming decision by NBC," tweeted CNN communications official Matt Dornic.

In a letter to Conde, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, and NBCUniversal chairman Jeff Shell, more than 100 entertainment professionals including current NBC stars Mandy Moore, Justin Hartley, and Chrissy Metz wrote that the question of whether to air Trump's town hall in competition with Biden's event "is not a partisan issue" but is rather "about the political health of our democracy."

"President Trump refused to participate in the virtual debate scheduled for Thursday night by the Presidential Debate Commission," the letter reads. "By agreeing to air his town hall as counter-programming opposite Vice President Biden's town hall on ABC, you are enabling the president's bad behavior while undercutting the Presidential Debate Commission and doing a disservice to the American public. We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state."

Shakina Nayfack, a transgender actress who stars in the NBC show "Connecting," spoke out shortly after the network announced the town hall on Wednesday, slamming executives for "a platform to someone who wants to abolish my rights."

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has starred in several popular NBC shows, was among those on social media who called for an #NBCBlackout, while former "Today" co-host Katie Couric called the network's decision "bad for democracy." 

Former "Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien, who was pushed out of his role after only nine months, jokingly compared NBC's decision to air Trump's town hall to his own experience with the network.

"I can't remember the last time I was this shocked by an NBC programming decision," O'Brien tweeted.  


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Like It Never Happened': Federal Judge Tosses Trump Attack on Clean Water Rule

Denying a Biden administration request to temporarily retain the rule, the judge reestablished "the careful balance of state and federal power to protect clean water that Congress intended when it wrote the Clean Water Act."

Brett Wilkins ·


Self-Proclaimed Pro-Climate Corporations Have Been Giving Thousands to Manchin and Sinema

"As if it wasn't enough that wealthy polluters have bankrolled Sen. Manchin during his fight against common-sense climate solutions—now companies that claim to value protecting the environment have opened their pocketbooks as well."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo