Lawyer Peter Gonzalez and marketing executive Ismael Llano were identified by name and profession as part of an “audience of undecided Florida voters” during a Monday town hall on NBC, even though they’d already self-identified as Biden voters just a few weeks before during an MSNBC segment, the Washington Free Beacon revealed on Tuesday.
The conservative outlet posted videos showing both segments featuring first Gonzalez and then Llano back to back, making it clear the two men were the same people. Gonzalez was identified during the August 21 MSNBC special as a “Republican voting for Biden,” while Llano was captioned an “independent voting for Biden.”
A third “undecided” voter used in NBC’s town hall, Matteo Gomez, had previously appeared in a September 30 MSNBC segment in which he said he would “probably” be voting for Biden because of “just how unpresidential” the debate between President Donald Trump and his Democrat challenger supposedly was. The Beacon uncovered two other town hall participants – “former Republican” Michelle Cruz Marrero and sports marketing exec Cassidy Brown – whose social media profiles appeared to show marked disdain for Trump.
While NBC and MSNBC employ different reporters to deliver the news, they do share some off-camera staff, and both are owned by parent company NBCUniversal.
NBC isn’t the only network that has been caught padding its “undecided” panels with Biden supporters. ABC News included Kutztown University professor Ellesia Blaque in a panel at a Trump town hall, identifying her as “uncommitted” despite her past vocal criticism of the president and her volunteer work on vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s campaign. Also identified as “uncommitted” was Philadelphia pastor Carl Day, despite his virulent anti-Trump postings on social media.
After they too were called out by the Beacon in September, the network excused its oversight by explaining to the Beacon that all voters had claimed to be uncommitted before the town hall. However, it declined to share whether it had done any research to verify those claims.
The town hall participants may simply be taking their cue from the network news anchors themselves, however. Since the election of President Trump in 2016, many commentators have become extremely open about their political affiliations on air, even as they insist the media establishment itself is not biased.
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