Americans deserve to see Donald Trump and Joe Biden in their original debating spirit. Therefore, microphones should not be muted during the presidential debate.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced a new rule regarding muting the microphones during the final presidential debate, to be held on October 22, 2020, in Nashville. The debate would be broken into six segments, with each segment featuring a different topic. At the start of each segment, the moderator would ask each candidate a question. According to the new rule that the commission announced, when a candidate is answering the question, the other candidate’s microphone would be muted, and vice versa. The intent of this rule, according to news reports, is to minimize interruptions.
Based on the usual setup of a presidential debate, the candidates, in spite of being several feet away from each other, are still close enough to be able to address each other without a microphone. The microphone is for the purpose of broadcasting their words to those in audience and to millions watching the debate on television. Muting the microphone would not prevent one candidate from interjecting, while the other candidate is speaking. Hence, the rule is of little to no use.
Furthermore, a debate is not simply about answering questions. It is more than that. A debate helps voters see the candidates’ attitude, tone of voice, body language, temperament, energy level, assertiveness, calmness, ability to argue and counter the opponent’s arguments, and so much more. It is essential, therefore, that the microphones not be muted and the Americans get to see President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in their original debating form.
What is also important is that the debate be moderated in a fair and impartial way. That is key to having a successful debate in which both candidates get equal opportunity to discuss their policy positions before the voters.
In my opinion, this new rule regarding muting the microphone would not improve the debating format, but rather be an unnecessary addition. The rule of muting the microphone also adds an extra burden in properly conducting the debate that, if not handled fairly, could spark fierce criticism from political analysts, journalists, elected officials, political leaders, and others during political discussions and conversations after the event concludes.