How CNN’s Debate is Set Up to Work

Happy Debate Day/Shark Night

The first presidential debate of the 2024 general-election season kicks off tonight at 9:00pm Eastern, and News Views invites you join us this evening to help fact-check the candidates, critique the moderators, enjoy some real or figurative popcorn, and imbibe with your refreshment of choice — Mountain Dew, anyone?

  • The debate, bypassing the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, is scheduled for 90 minutes, with two commercial breaks.
  • There will be no opening statements according to CNN, but there will be a two-minute closing statement with Biden first, and Trump to follow.
  • Candidates will have two minutes to answer a question, one minute rebuttals (refuttals for Trump?), and responses to the rebuttals.
  • Biden won a coin-flip to choose the lecturn on the right, which will be eight feet from Trump’s.
  • Each candidate will receive a pen, a notepad, and a bottle of water. No props or written notes allowed. And no audience.

About the microphones:

Both candidates’ microphones will be muted throughout the debate, except for when it’s their turn to speak. Two lights on each lecturn will turn green when the microphone is on.

Watch the demonstration below provided by CNN to see and hear how difficult it will be to hear any muted comments (or heckling).

We hope you can join us later for some fun!