Who muted the mics during tonight’s presidential debate? Although some people think it was the moderator, it actually wasn’t. Here’s what you need to know.
The Moderator Wasn’t Muting the Mics — the Job Belonged to an Unnamed Technician
The debate moderator, Kristen Welker, wasn’t using the mute button herself; it was run by a technician. The New York Times reported that the job would be handled by a member of the Commission on Presidential Debate’s production crew.
Tonight’s debate was in six 15-minute segments, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Candidates had two minutes to answer the opening question and they will be able to respond to each other too. A technician muted an opposing candidate’s mic during the two-minute response time. The Commission announced: “The only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules.” The mics will then open after that for discussion from both, NPR reported.
The Commission later said it was instituting the muted mics because it felt that the first debate’s interruptions were “depriving voters of the opportunity to be informed of the candidates’ positions on the issues,” but the campaigns might not be “totally satisfied” by this new change, The New York Times reported.
An unnamed source told CNN that the Commission’s decision about muting the mics was unanimous.
Trump’s campaign said they intended to have someone monitor the technician in charge of the mic during the debate, Fox News reported. Biden’s campaign said they had not committed to doing the same.
Yang’s Mic Caused A Lot of Controversy in 2019
This isn’t the first time that a mic has been controversial during a debate for the 2020 presidential election. Back in June 2019, Andrew Yang was one of the many contenders for the Democratic nominee. During one of the Democratic debates, it appeared that his mic was muted. But in this situation, there was no announcement made ahead of time that the mics for any candidates would be muted.
At one point during the debate, viewers said they could see Yang appearing to open his mouth and speak, but unlike the other candidates, his voice couldn’t be 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.”
However, it appeared 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. Others pointed out that you could 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 later said publicly that his mic was turned off during the debate.