Presidential-debate commission allows for muting microphones so Trump and Biden can have uninterrupted time
- The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced plans to mute microphones during the next presidential debate to allow each presidential candidate to have two-minute blocks of uninterrupted time.
- The move was designed to "ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," according to a statement from the commission.
- President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, are scheduled to take the debate stage for a second and final time Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, at 9 p.m. ET.
- Analysis by The Washington Post of the pair's chaotic first debate found that interjections by Trump accounted for more than 75% of the debate's interruptions.
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The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced a new rule allowing microphones to be muted, allowing each candidate to have two-minute blocks of uninterrupted time.
The move was designed to "ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," according to a statement from the commission.
The commission wrote in the statement that after the chaotic first debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, it had "considered the opinion of many who expressed concern that the debate fell short of expectations, depriving voters of the opportunity to be informed of the candidates' positions on the issues."
The commission reiterated the debate's rules regarding time, in which each candidate would be given two uninterrupted minutes to speak at the beginning of 15-minute segments on various topics.
"The Commission is announcing today that in order to enforce this agreed upon rule, the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules," the statement said.
"For the balance of each segment, which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion, both candidates' microphones will be open."
—Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 19, 2020
Trump and Biden are scheduled to appear on the debate stage for a second and final time Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, at 9 p.m. ET.
Tensions were high during the pair's first debate, on September 29, as the moderator Chris Wallace had trouble reining in the candidates, particularly Trump, who constantly cut into each other's speaking time.
Analysis by The Washington Post afterward found that interjections by Trump accounted for more than 75% of the debate's interruptions. A count by Slate said the president interrupted Biden and Wallace at least 128 times combined.
Another debate had been scheduled for last Thursday, but it turned into simultaneous televised town halls after Trump spoke out against the possibility of a virtual debate, as had been planned after he tested positive for the coronavirus early this month.
In the statement from the debate commission regarding the new rules on muting, the panel acknowledged that "neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today," adding: "One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough."
But it concluded: "We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held."
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