People Protest Trump in Pinehurst

Protestors wave signs outside the Fair Barn in Pinehurst, where Fox News taped an episode of "The First 100 Days." (Photo by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot)

Fox News is expected Sunday evening to air a town-hall-style event it recorded this past Wednesday at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst.

Several people pre-selected by the network gathered at the Fair Barn for a taping of “The First 100 Days,” a series that focuses on President Donald Trump's early performance in the White House.

“It’s mostly about being in a state that has flip-flopped over the past election,”  Martha MacCallum, the show's host, said in an interview earlier this week with The Pilot. “We're excited to hear the thoughts of people on the ground there.”

Originally set to air live from Pinehurst, the broadcast was postponed to make room for the network's coverage of a deadly attack that occurred Wednesday afternoon at Britain's Parliament. It was rescheduled for Friday but bumped again so the network could focus on coverage of the health care bill in Congress.

The show is now scheduled to air on Fox News on Sunday at 8 p.m., network officials say.

Audience members chosen by Fox were required to fill out an online questionnaire in order to receive tickets to the event. The respondents were asked to rate Trump’s performance and list the two biggest issues facing his administration, among other questions.

All of the tickets were distributed just six hours after a story about the broadcast was published to The Pilot's website.

“It was pretty cool,” said Patrick Barry, a Southern Pines resident who sat in on the taping. “There were good questions and a pretty interactive audience. The crowd wasn’t strongly for one side or the other.”

Before the event began, about 100 people gathered outside the Fair Barn for an “anti-Trump, anti-Fox” demonstration organized by Indivisible, a national movement against Trump’s presidency. Many of the protesters felt Fox News prioritized the opinions of a controlled sample of North Carolina voters by holding the event in Pinehurst, where 74 percent of affiliated voters are Republican. 

A number of Trump supporters also turned out for a counter-protest. They held flags and featured music such as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

Since its January debut, “The First 100 Days” has become a ratings juggernaut for Fox. The show, which airs on weeknights, averages about three million viewers.

“It is a very revolutionary moment, I think, in American history,” MacCallum said. “It’s a president who right now has pretty low approval numbers, if you believe the Gallup numbers, 37 or 39 percent — somewhere in there. He’s forcing a lot through the pipeline and I think the jury’s still out on whether or not it will be successful.”

Full coverage of the program’s visit to Pinehurst will appear in The Pilot after the episode airs.

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