Debate Relief: The Nominees’ Mics Will Be Muted While the Other is Talking

In an attempt to avoid the chaos that ensued last month in Cleveland during what was not only the worst presidential debate of all time but probably a low point in TV history as well, the debate commission has announced that Thursday’s debate has some new rules. One big one: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s mics will be muted while the other is talking.

It won’t work that way the whole time. Biden and Trump will get two minutes to respond to moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News’ questions, and those two minutes will be unbroken thanks to the muted mic. After that, they’ll be free to “engage” each other until the next question.

It’s how the debate commission is trying to regulate the unruly behavior displayed by Trump in particular, who spent most of the last debate talking over his Democratic rival while moderator Chris Wallace haplessly attempted to enforce the rules. “One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough,” the commission said in a statement. “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.”

Speaking with reporters on Air Force One, Trump indicated that he wasn’t thrilled. “I’ll participate, I just think it is very unfair,” he said. “I will participate, but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it is very unfair that again we have an anchor who is totally biased.”

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The debate will be held in Nashville, and will mark the last boss battle between the President and his challenger before election day — although millions of votes have already been cast by mail.

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