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CNN Has a Plan for Keeping Donald Trump From Hijacking Thursday’s Debate. There’s Reason to Worry.

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the challenges CNN faces in moderating the upcoming presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, given the network's past experience with Trump's disruptive behavior during a previous town hall event.

🙋 Q&A

[01] How the Hell Is CNN Going to Keep This Debate on the Rails?

1. What rules has CNN put in place for the upcoming presidential debate?

  • There will be no live audience
  • The candidates will not be allowed to consult notes or their advisers
  • They will have 2 minutes to respond to questions, followed by 1-minute rebuttals and responses
  • There are no opening statements and no props allowed
  • The candidates' microphones will be muted when they are not speaking

2. How does CNN plan to enforce these rules and ensure a "civilized discussion"?

  • CNN has said that moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash "will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion"
  • However, it's unclear what this means in practice - whether they will use drastic measures like opening a trapdoor or using a shepherd's crook to remove disruptive candidates

3. How will CNN handle any falsehoods or interruptions from the candidates?

  • There is no plan for live fact-checking, so it's unclear how falsehoods will be curtailed
  • If Trump or Biden start interrupting or yelling, the moderators may struggle to maintain control, even with the muted microphones

4. What is at stake for CNN in this debate?

  • CNN faced heavy criticism after a previous town hall event with Trump, where he was able to spew lies and disrupt the proceedings
  • That event led to the firing of CNN's CEO, so there is a lot riding on the network's ability to maintain control this time

[02] Debate Format and Potential Impacts

1. How does the debate format differ from previous presidential debates?

  • The debate is being organized outside of the control of the Commission on Presidential Debates, with the two campaigns agreeing on the format and rules
  • This includes the muted microphones and strict time limits, which are meant to prevent the kind of disruptions seen in the past

2. How might the format impact the candidates' performance?

  • The lack of a live audience and muted microphones may benefit Biden by preventing Trump from overpowering him
  • However, the stripped-down environment could also make Trump appear more "presidential" and allow him to avoid his more erratic behavior

3. Can CNN still maintain control of the debate, even with the new format?

  • While the muted microphones will help, Trump's ability to disrupt the proceedings in other ways (e.g., yelling, wandering the stage) remains a concern
  • The reality is that the candidates will be in the same room, so Trump's behavior could still prove distracting enough to derail the debate
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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