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Trump, Biden, and CNN: What to Know About the First Presidential Debate

Virginia Allen, Kristen Eichamer-Commentary : May 23, 2024  The Daily Signal

If CNN fails to conduct a substantive debate between the two candidates, ABC News will have the opportunity to do so on Sept. 10, but CNN will have missed a golden opportunity to show Americans it can do more than pander to the Biden administration.

[] ...Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to debate on June 27, but the debate will be unlike those held between presidential candidates in the recent past. (Image: Public Domain /Screengrab)

Trump told Biden he would debate him "Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace," and Biden accepted, but with stipulations. The Biden campaign said it would only agree to a debate if there was no live audience, hearkening back to the first televised presidential debate in 1960 between Democratic Sen. John F. Kennedy and Republican Vice President Richard Nixon, which was telecast live from a TV studio without a studio audience.

Fox News reports that the Biden campaign also stipulated that the debate should be hosted by a "broadcast organization that hosted a Republican primary debate in 2016 in which Donald Trump participated, and a Democratic primary debate in 2020 in which ...Biden participated—so neither campaign can assert that the sponsoring organization is obviously unacceptable: if both candidates have previously debated on their airwaves, then neither could object to such venue."

Those stipulations limited the hosting networks to a handful of outlets, including CNN. The outlet's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will co-host the debate at CNN's studios in Atlanta. The debate gives CNN the opportunity, amid low ratings, to appeal to Americans who have come to view CNN as little more than a mouthpiece for the Left. 

 During prime time in March, Deadline reports, CNN averaged 601,000 views, falling far behind MSNBC's 1.31 million-viewer average during the same time of day, and Fox News' 2.14 million. CNN's prime-time viewership is up 5% for the first quarter of 2024, compared with the previous year.

With additional Biden campaign stipulations requiring that a "candidate's microphone should only be active when it is his turn to speak," viewers will be watching whether CNN adheres to this rule equally between both candidates.

Perhaps most importantly, CNN's Tapper and Bash will be judged by the questions they do or don't ask.

Apart from questions related to the economy, which are bound to be asked, given Republican and Democratic voters' shared concerns over inflation, CNN should take the opportunity to show US voters it will hold Biden's feet to the fire on [Biden's] border and immigration policies and his handling of foreign policy, with regard to China, Russia, and Iran, and support for Israel.

If CNN fails to conduct a substantive debate between the two candidates, ABC News will have the opportunity to do so on Sept. 10, but CNN will have missed a golden opportunity to show Americans it can do more than pander to the Biden administration... Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

Virginia Allen is a senior news producer and podcast host for The Daily Signal and is the co-host of The Daily Signal Podcast and Problematic Women. Send an email to Virginia.

Kristen Eichamer is an advisor for coalitions communications in the Campaigns and Partnerships Department at The Heritage Foundation.

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