Sep 30, 2020
Following Tuesday night's "disastrous, chaotic, and nearly unwatchable" debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the Commission on Presidential Debates said on Wednesday that it will make yet-to-be-announced format changes for the two remaining debates in an effort to curb crosstalk and foster a more substantive discussion of policies, NBC Newsreported.
One day after Trump repeatedly violated the rules by frequently interrupting Biden, the CPD said that "last night's 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."
The CPD did not elaborate on any specific proposals but said that it is considering multiple ideas and will announce detailed measures in the near future.
NBC Newsnoted that "changing the structure of the debates last-minute is highly unusual and a testament to just how out of control Tuesday night's event was."
Fox News host Chris Wallace was criticized for his inability to control the "fracas," which some observers, like John Nichols of The Nation, attributed to the failure of Wallace and his team to "control the mics."
"Wallace needed, at the very least, a mute button," wroteWashington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan. "Maybe something stronger. A penalty box? A stun gun?"
The CPD thanked Wallace for his efforts and expressed its intention to improve the capacity of future moderators to retain control: "The Commission is grateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night's debate and intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates."
Although it is unclear what changes the CPD will implement and whether both candidates will agree to the reforms, Biden told reporters on Wednesday during a campaign stop in Ohio that he intends to continue participating in the debates.
"I just hope there's a way the Debate Commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruption," the Democratic nominee said.
The next debate--set to be hosted by C-SPAN anchor Steve Scully on Oct. 15--is currently organized as a town hall, in which both candidates will answer questions posed by audience members.
Whatever changes are in store, voters are hoping the new rules yield something better than what transpired on Tuesday night, which was described by CNN anchor Jake Tapper as "a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck" and by CNN correspondent Dana Bash more succinctly as "a shitshow."
While Tapper said that "the American people lost," journalist David Sirota declared Wednesday in The Daily Poster that "the people stealing everything won last night's debate."
Sirota argued that as long as debates mostly refuse to "focus on the material well-being of millions of people," and "debate analysis revolves around decorum," then the "villains who are systematically bankrolling elections, buying Supreme Court seats, pillaging the country, and scorching the earth... are getting off scot-free."
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