Debate commission to change format of upcoming presidential debates

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Photos courtesy of Creative Commons; Layout courtesy of Amanda M. Castro

Mia Steadman, Contributing Writer

Less than 24 hours after 2020 presidential nominees Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced off for the first time on the debate stage, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that they would be discussing changes to the format for the remaining debates.

“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more order discussion of the issues,” the CPD said in a statement posted to their website on Sept. 30.

During the debate, both nominees talked over the other. However, President Trump’s constant interruptions required the debate’s moderator, Fox News reporter Chris Wallace, to pause the conversation several times to ask him to stop.

At one point, Wallace took a step back in an attempt to reign in the candidates. “The country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” he said, and looked to Trump, “I’m appealing to you, sir, to do it.”

Trump responded with a nod toward Biden, “And him, too?”

“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Wallace said. According to the Boston Globe, Trump interrupted Biden 10 times while he attempted to answer one question.

Biden also quickly grew tired of the president’s behavior, at one point interjecting his interruptions with “Will you shut up, man?”

The CPD also thanked Chris Wallace in their statement “for the professionalism and skill he brought to [the] debate.” Wallace also faced criticism, with some saying he didn’t do enough to control the debaters.

The changes up for discussion include the possibility of controlling the candidates’ microphones to limit their ability to interrupt each other and the moderator by adding a mute button. However, nothing is set in stone and the CPD has not yet released its final plan.

The Trump campaign has already expressed that they are against the idea of changing the debate structure.

“Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 1.

“President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work with the refs. They shouldn’t be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game,” said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Trump’s campaign.

The campaign has referred to his performance in the first debate as a “resounding victory over Joe Biden,” although many Americans, and those overseas, were not as impressed.

According to a CBS News survey, 83 percent of debate watchers found the overall tone of the debate to be negative. Additionally, 69 percent checked that they felt “annoyed” during the debate, with 31 percent feeling “entertained,” 19 percent “pessimistic,” and only 17 percent of watchers feeling “informed.”

Shivani Patel, president of the Model United Nations club and a senior studying criminal justice, was not excited about the nominees’ behavior.

“Behaving in a childish manner can give the public a completely wrong idea about how [they] would conduct themselves as the leader of our nation. They have to have a certain standard of professionalism they should bring to the public,” she said. “This standard was not even touched at the debate.”

The CPD has yet to release the discussed changes, but the future of the debates has already fallen into question with the news that President Trump has contracted COVID-19.