Debate commission to make ‘changes’ to structure, format after chaotic first presidential debate
Hunter Biden will be a featured topic in the final presidential debate.

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President Donald Trump repeatedly interrupted during Tuesday's first presidential debate.

The presidential debate commission says it will soon adopt changes to its format to avoid a repeat of the disjointed first meeting between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.

The commission said Wednesday the debate “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”

One possibility being discussed is to give the moderator the ability to cut off the microphone of one of the debate participants while his opponent is talking, according to a person familiar with the deliberations who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The next presidential debate is a town hall format scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

Moderator Chris Wallace struggled to gain control of the 90-minute debate in Cleveland because of frequent interruptions, primarily by Trump.

Wallace, of Fox News, pleaded for a more orderly debate, at one point looking at Trump and saying, “the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I’m appealing to you, sir, to do that.”

“Ask him, too,” Trump said.

“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has,” Wallace said.

Biden on Wednesday called the debate “a national embarrassment.” But despite some suggestions that the final two presidential encounters be canceled, both campaigns said they expected their candidate to attend.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said the commission was “only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night. President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs.”

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, who moderated one of the three debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, said Wallace was put in nearly an impossible situation. Faced with the same behavior, she said she might have called a full stop to the debate for a moment to recalibrate.

She never had the option, technically, to cut off the microphone of a candidate four years ago, she said. It also wasn’t in the rules that were agreed to in advance by the candidate and commission.

“To say, ‘he’s not going to follow the rules so we aren’t, either?’ It’s an unprecedented situation,” Raddatz said. “That was so out of control.”

Twitter was ablaze with criticism for Wallace early in the debate for losing control of the proceedings. That was illustrated by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who tweeted “what is Chris Wallace doing? He has no control over the debate. He asks a question and (lets) Trump continue yelling. This is a disgrace.”

By the time he was on “Morning Joe″ the next morning, Scarborough had cooled off. He called on the debate commission to act.

“While it was extraordinarily frustrating, I think all of us need to walk a mile in his shoes before saying the morning after, ‘he could have done this, he could have done that,’” Scarborough said.

Some of the president’s supporters felt that Wallace was too hard on their candidate. Trump himself suggested he was also debating Wallace, “but that’s no surprise.”

Wallace even got some criticism from opinion personalities on his own network. “Trump is debating the moderator and Biden,” prime-time host Laura Ingraham tweeted during the debate.

Another Fox colleague, Geraldo Rivera, expressed more sympathy.

“The guy signed up to moderate a debate and he ended up trying to referee a knife fight,” he said.

Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” was not immediately made available for comment by Fox.

Wallace is the only presidential debate moderator this cycle with prior experience, after receiving praise for handling the final Clinton-Trump debate in 2016. The other two moderators are Steve Scully of C-SPAN and Kristen Welker of NBC News.

Scully moderates the Miami debate, which will be a town hall format where citizens get to ask questions. That format may make interruptions more difficult.

“Having prepared for these, the town hall is a completely different event in the debate Olympics,” tweeted David Plouffe, an adviser to former President Barack Obama. “If Trump brings the same nastiness to Florida, it will be doubly painful to watch but it will be doubly painful for him politically.”

The Nielsen company’s estimate on how many people watched Tuesday’s debate was expected later Wednesday.


Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Ray Blacklidge

    September 30, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Chris Wallace disrespected the President. It was Joe Biden who started the interruptions and then the President followed suit in spades. Trump should have let Biden talk more, because Biden would have hung himself with his answers. In 3 hours, Biden started early calling the President a clown and told him to shut up, probably on purpose because that type of debate is in Trump’s wheelhouse and from then on he didn’t let Biden stub his own toe because he disrupted him so much.

  • James Robert Miles

    September 30, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Blah, blah blah! you and your ilk would still support Trump even if he had taken a dump on the podium! Your dear leader is becoming more unhinged by the day and if you can’t see this than YOU ARE DEAF, DUMB and BLIND. You schills and lemmings won’t be happy until Trump destroys America and EVERYTHING that it is supposed to stand for. Supporting Trump is like supporting treason! DUMP TRUMP 2020! VOTE HIM OUT, LOCK HIM UP! SAVE AMERICA FROM FASCIST EXTREMISM!!


    September 30, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    A “MAGA” ball gag is in order for the unhinged fake president.
    Wallace should just have told him to STFU. Can’t wait for him
    to be flushed on November 3rd.

  • Sonja Fitch

    September 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Will you shut up,man? Lol
    Lol. Trump unhinged! Trump was a damn shit storm of rude crude bullying! Vote Blue! Vote Democrat up and down ballot !

  • Palmer Tom

    September 30, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Cut off the mic! That’s the only way to control the debate. Better yet, cancel the debates. I think we’ve heard enough.

Comments are closed.


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