The Brian Mudd Show

The Brian Mudd Show

There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. That's Brian's mantra and what drives him to get beyond the headlines.Full Bio


Q&A of the Day – Will the Presidential Debates Be Rigged?

Q&A of the Day – Will the Presidential Debates Be Rigged?  

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.     


Social: @brianmuddradio   

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.      

Today’s Entry: I'm curious and frustrated that no one is mentioning that CNN will provide all the questions to Biden camp like they did for Hillary. Or even the Biden camp tell CNN the questions to Ask. Giving Biden the ability to answer prepared questions having been coached...etc. demanding Trump Mike muted! Seriously, no one is talking about this, perhaps it's a conversation you can speak about and pass on to National hosts! 

Bottom Line: Perhaps one of the most surprising bits of news to come out of the past week was President Biden’s decision to come public challenging Donald Trump to two debates. The video message posted on X said: Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then, he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. Magically, in a matter of minutes, CNN had already worked out a date and a moderator team for first a debate on June 27th. As President Biden’s team then tweeted out on his behalf: I’ve received and accepted an invitation from @CNN for a debate on June 27th. Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place. And just minutes behind that one came another invitation by ABC News with all of the deets worked out as well with Biden immediately accepting that one as well and his team Tweeting this: I've also received and accepted an invitation to a debate hosted by ABC on Tuesday, September 10th. Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation. I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years. The former and perhaps future President of the United States quickly accepted both of the invites but then also offered up additional debate proposals that would have been hosted by Fox News and NBC News/Telemundo. Those two were rejected by the president as he said: The debate about debates is over. No more games. Except, as it is implied with today’s note, the games could just be beginning.  

One needs not be a conspiracy theorist to a) think that there had been coordination between the Biden campaign and CNN and ABC News officials about potential debate plans prior to President Biden’s public debate announcement/challenge and b) to think that the deck might be stacked in Biden’s favor heading into them. There are two completely reasoned reasons for those concerns for Donald Trump and his supporters. The first comes down to the moderators themselves. CNN’s two moderators will be Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Their long history of public opposition to Donald Trump is well known. To succinctly summarize the opposition though, here’s an example.  

Following the results of the 2020 Presidential election in a monologue on CNN Tapper stated: For tens of millions of our fellow Americans: their long national nightmare is over. The monologue was entirely dedicated to bashing Trump’s presidency but summarized as having been “a national nightmare”. And that’s a guy who’s moderating a debate? As for Dana Bash, in March, in a preview of what’s likely to come, she talked over and then cutoff former President Trump’s public comments following the Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision in the rejected Colorado case seeking to keep Trump off of state ballots this year. Quoting BashHe veered into lots of other areas where we definitely have to fact-check.” Not that he’d said anything that was incorrect mind you – just that she wasn’t willing to have Donald Trump speak freely on CNN without first having been fact checked. This has never been done to Joe Biden on CNN under any circumstance.  

The ABC debate moderators Lindsey Davis (who I do think is a solid journalist) and David Muir, who is probably the best of the legacy news presenters, don’t have as obvious of an anti-Trump track record a la other’s at the network namely Johnathon Karl and George Stephanopoulos, however their coverage of former President Trump has been anything but objective in its presentation. According to the Media Research Center 89% of ABC’s coverage of Donald Trump has been negative. During a debate this can show up in the form of questions meant to keep Trump on the defensive while President Biden is positioned to go on the attack for example – so that will be worth watching. And speaking of the questions themselves, that takes us to today’s Q&A. Will a debate, or potentially both, be rigged? 

It was on March 17th of 2017, in the early days of the Trump presidency, that Democrat operative Donna Brazile admitted something that had long been suspected. In her official capacity as a paid commentator on CNN, she rigged the Democrat’s Presidential Primary Debate, hosted on the network. In an essay in Time, she admitted to emailing the debate questions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in advance of the debate with Bernie Sanders. Quoting Brazile in her essay: Sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret. Now, Brazile resigned from the network as a result of her debate rigging, and there wasn’t an indication that anyone else at CNN was responsible for the extreme misconduct, but the fact that’s it’s previously happened at CNN legitimizes concerns that it could happen again. That’s especially true when you have two well-known Trump bashers behind the moderating.  

As for what has happened in the setting up of these two debates, and as for what is likely to happen with these debates, I have a few thoughts.  

Are debate shenanigans a la the sharing of debate questions with team Biden in advance of the debate possible? Obviously, given that it happened with the first network hosting a debate. Is it likely? Probably not. Should a leak of leaked questions emerge it is the type of thing that can ruin careers – (that’s true at the network level but there’s also risk for the political candidate as well should the info come to light prior to the election). Instead, the shenanigans have likely already happened with Donald Trump having opened the door up for them to occur.  

Debate questions don’t need to be shared with a candidate to gain an advantage. The topics addressed, the tone and wording of the questions, etc. can provide just as much of an advantage. Trump immediately accepted the invites for both debates with the terms outlined because he effectively had no choice. He had consistently been saying that he’d debate Biden “anytime and anywhere”. Trump was evidently so convinced Biden wouldn’t debate that he didn’t consider that Biden’s team would prearrange debates with networks that have been favorable to him which is what appears to have happened. He’s clearly not happy about this given that he proposed the two additional debates after the fact which were rejected and also his suggestion that there should be drug tests in advance of the debates because Biden would be “jacked up” (which isn’t a crazy request given that the Biden we see every day and the Biden that we saw deliver the State of the Union address were clearly two very contrasting examples). 

So yeah, are the debates likely to be fair and square for Trump? Nope, certainly not with Tapper and Bash moderating the first one. Nevertheless, Donald Trump has no one to blame but himself for the way it came about. He underestimated team-Biden on this one and now it will be incumbent on him to figure out a way to defeat the moderators in addition to Biden.   

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content