Shock! CNN debate rules are set and they favor Biden – here’s how other networks can air event

Campaign accord saw the stage nearly set for the upcoming CNN presidential debate where candidates weren’t the only ones expected to follow slanted rules.

The announcement that CNN would be hosting the upcoming June 27 presidential debate, billed as the first of two agreed upon by President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, had set expectations that the forum favored the incumbent from the outset. Saturday, the network dispelled the doubts of many on the contrary as they released details about the rules of the 90-minute contest.

Moderated by anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, an audience would be notably absent from the venue in Atlanta, Georgia where cheering and jeering weren’t all that would be missing. Along with prohibiting pre-written notes and props of any kind, cross-talk was expected to be tamped down from the get-go as CNN’s producers would control the microphones of the candidates, keeping them muted except when they are called upon to speak.

While minutia such as which side of the stage the candidates would stand on would be determined by a coin flip, and each participant would be provided with a pen, paper, and bottle of water, the rules regarding commercial breaks impacted the candidates and other networks alike.

During the two scheduled interruptions, it was announced that staff would not be allowed to interact with the candidates. In a similar way, outlets simulcasting the event would not be allowed to add their two cents in lieu of advertisements during those windows, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Further, in order to air the simulcast, participating networks were required to refer to the event as the “CNN Presidential Debate” and promote it as the “CNN Presidential Debate Simulcast.” Even program guides were expected to read, “Simulcast: CNN Presidential Debate.”

Additionally, the CNN logo was expected to remain displayed at all times during the simulcast and the Times indicated that “Instead of the blue background showing the constitution, as seen in previous presidential debates, viewers will see the CNN logo.”

“CNN is unilaterally producing this debate,” a network spokesperson told the newspaper, “and that requires transparency with viewers and a substantial investment of resources.”

A stacked deck to favor Biden also set high hurdles for third-party candidates like environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who had changed his affiliation from the Democratic Party to independent after the Democratic National Committee refused to respect primary challengers to the incumbent.

Details from the network specified, “In order to meet CNN’s qualifications for the debate, candidates must satisfy the requirements outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution to serve as president. Both Biden and Trump meet those requirements, as do Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein, who are running on non-major-party tickets.”

“Participants must also file a formal statement of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission. All five have done so,” the outlet indicated before making clear who the gatekeepers were and where the current bar had been set to gain entry.

“All participating debaters must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency and receive at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that meet CNN’s standards for reporting,” said the network stipulating, “Polls that meet those standards are those sponsored by CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, Marquette University Law School, Monmouth University, NBC News, The New York Times/Siena College, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College, Quinnipiac University, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.”

As for Tapper and Bash, considered by many to be tag team participants there to prop up Biden and tear down Trump, CNN said their moderators “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”

The announced rules had social media users expecting work arounds that would even further benefit the incumbent, including the potential for ear buds and pre-supplied questions.

Kevin Haggerty


We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Latest Articles