Andrew Yang says his mic was muted at times during the Democratic debate on Thursday, June 27. NBC is refuting the claim and saying the mic was never muted. However, video online appears to show Yang’s voice not being picked up by his mic while other candidates’ voices were. The video turned the controversy into a #LetYangSpeak trend on Twitter. But this isn’t the first time Yang supporters have voiced concerns about MSNBC’s coverage of Yang. The debates were hosted by MSNBC, NBC, and Telemundo.
Here’s a video that shows Yang trying to speak during the debate. At one point you can see Yang appearing to open his mouth and speak, but unlike the other candidates, his voice isn’t heard. NBC News told Newsweek that the mic was never turned off. “At no point during the debate was any candidate’s microphone turned off or muted.”
Here’s a YouTube version of that same video:
It appears from the video that either his own mic was muted and he was faintly picked up by other mics, or his mic was leveled down. However, NBC has said this did not happen, so it’s unclear what was going on. Kirsten Gillibrand’s mic is clearly much louder than Yang’s when he tries to speak at the same time as her. Many candidates spoke out of turn during the debate and were clearly heard at other times too.
Others have pointed out that you can see Joe Biden turning to look at Yang in the video above, indicating that he was talking loud enough for those near him to hear him, but not anyone else. Yang’s supporters say this indicates that Yang was speaking. As noted earlier, NBC says this is not the case.
There are more videos that appear to show Yang’s mic not working right during the debate. These were compiled by the YangforPresidentHQ subreddit. Here you can hear a moderator speaking and then Yang sounds very different at the timestamp of 2:23:48. (The video is not embeddable.)
An alert reader on Twitter also brought up another possible instance.
The video is here and can’t be embedded. Just before 2:24, listen as Pete Buttigieg is speaking. When he finishes his speech, you can see Yang trying to talk but it appears his voice is picked up by Buttigieg’s mic. Then Yang touches his mic as if to indicate it’s not working. What do you think is happening in the video?
Yang has said publicly that his mic was turned off during the debate. He talks about it at 4:04 in the video below, when he spoke to his supporters after the debate.
Yang said: “So a few times, FYI, where I just started talking and being like, ‘Hey, I want to add something there,’ and my mic was not on… It’s like I was talking, but nothing was happening. And it was like, ‘Oh f…'”
Yang also tweeted about his mic being turned off unless he was called on.
Marianne Williamson, who was also in the debate, has said her mic was muted at times, too. She said in response to a tweet asking her about the mic issue: “As much fun as I’ve had laughing at all the understandable hilarious tweets about me today, the mic issue is not funny and yes it did happen. I tried a couple of times to jump in and my mic was not on. Particularly wanted in on the subject of race.”
NBC News told Newsweek that the mic was never turned off. “At no point during the debate was any candidate’s microphone turned off or muted.”
After the debate, charts showed that Yang had the least amount of speaking time for both debates combined. He clocked in at just 2 minutes and 58 seconds compared to people like Joe Biden who had 13 minutes, Kamala Harris who had about 12 minutes, and Bernie Sanders who had about 11 minutes.
And direct questions asked of candidates were also skewed against Yang, even when compared to candidates he was polling better than.
The controversy sparked a Twitter trend with the hashtag #LetYangSpeak. Many people noticed how little time Yang got compared to others.
This isn’t the first time that Yang supporters have had concerns about his coverage involving MSNBC. In the past, they’ve pointed out that he’s been left off graphics shown on MSNBC while other candidates were prominently displayed. Here are some examples of past concerns.
During the Poor People’s Campaign Forum, MSNBC spoke over Yang’s appearance.
Here’s an MSNBC graphic from earlier this week where Yang’s picture was missing and some candidates who didn’t qualify for the debates were included:
In the photo above, Marianne Williamson was also missing. However, it appears that two other candidates who didn’t qualify were in the graphic. After a lot of complaints online, MSNBC fixed the graphic.
And then there’s this:
And then there was this moment when Yang finally appeared on an MSNBC graphic, but they didn’t actually say Yang’s name while they said everyone else’s name:
In April, Yang was left off an MSNBC graphic even though he was polling higher than three other candidates on the graphic. Joy Reid said it was a mistake and they would fix it.
Here’s another example from last month, where Yang was polling better than many of the people who were included in the graphic from MSNBC below. Yang has been interviewed on MSNBC, so he’s not completely ignored, but it took a long time for him to show up in their graphics:
Even Yang said his name not being on graphics confused him too.
It should be noted again that NBC has said that Yang’s mic was not muted and, if something did happen, it’s certainly possible that it was just an accident.
Yang had a positive spin on the whole thing. He said that when MSNBC adjusted their graphics in response to concerns from his supporters, it showed what a big difference viewers and individuals can make.
He also had positive spins about the debates too.
It will be interesting to see what happens next.
If you have comments about this story or additional video showing the mics muted, tweet the author of this article.