Time: 9:00PM-10:30PM Eastern Time (with no commercial breaks. The TV coverage started at 7PM, but I figured we could skip that).

Place: Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee

Host: Commission on Presidential Debates (a non-profit controlled by the two parties)=

Moderator: Kristen Welker, White House correspondent, NBC News

Candidate line-up:

Donald Trump (President of the United States)
Joe Biden (former Vice President of the United States)

Topics, fifteen minutes each:

Fighting COVID-19
American Families
Race in America
Climate Change
National Security

How to watch:

The debate will air live on CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International.
It will stream live in its entirety, without requiring log-in to a cable provider, on CNN.com’s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV. You can also follow CNN’s live debate coverage on CNN.com, which will include analysis and fact checking.

Rules change:

This time, the Commission on Presidential Debates has given the green light to an in-person face-off, but with one unprecedented change: The candidates will have their microphones cut off while their opponents respond to the first question of each of the debate’s six segments.

The moderator, Kristen Welker, has become part of the story. This is from 2016, so contemporaneous (unlike the tweets and clips going around). From the Free Beacon, “MSNBC Reporter Has No Idea She’s Live During Interview, Tells Clinton Aide What She’ll Be Asking” (I’n quoting a lot of it so that anyone who knows how TV interviews work (I don’t) can assess the Free Beacon’s conclusions:

MSNBC had an awkward moment while trying to conduct a post-debate interview Sunday night, as reporter Kristen Welker appeared not to know she was live and told a Hillary Clinton aide what she would be asking her during their segment.

She then interrupted the guest, Jen Palmieri, when she heard a delayed prompt from the studio.

Ari Melber threw to Welker to speak with Palmieri, a flack for Hillary Clinton, but Welker was in mid-conversation with Palmieri and was telling her she would ask a question about Flint, Michigan, the site of Sunday night’s debate, because of the water crisis there.

“And I’m going to ask you about Flint,” Welker said.

“Kristen, go ahead, you’re live,” Melber said. “You know, we have Kristen Welker. We’re looking at her. She couldn’t quite hear me before. Can you hear me now? If you can, go ahead.”

Welker appeared to be receiving a delayed signal. Finally, she began the interview.

“So Jen, your initial reaction to tonight’s debate? Very fiery,” Welker said.

“Very fiery. Also very substantive,” Palmieri said. “I think it was probably the most substantive exchange that we’ve had. Also, there were a little bit of fireworks, but I think that it was useful because we think–”

Welker then cut over her when she apparently finally heard Melber’s words about starting the interview.

“Ari, I can hear you,” Welker said. “I’m here with communications director Jen Palmeri. Can you guys hear me back in the studio?”

“Yes, we’re on a delay, but go ahead,” Melber said.

“Can you guys hear what we’re saying here?” Welker asked.

“Yes!” Melber said.

The interview started again, and Palmieri again mispronounced the word “substantive” as she praised the tenor of the debate.

Perhaps this is normal practice; after all, MSNBC has a comfortable relationship with the Democrat Party. However, it reminds me of Donna Brazile leaking Town Hall topics to the Clinton campaign, also in 2016. One big happy!

Drinking Game: This debate’s drinking game is not up yet, so here’s the last debate’s. (Personally, I think Taibbi’s a little trapped by success here, and he should think of a new concept. It’s not good to get hammered, for the body or the soul. Justifiable though getting hammered may be!

* * *

As usual, this post does not update; readers may track the debate in real time in comments.

Please keep your comments as informative and analytical as possible. Write for the reader who hasn’t seen the debate, and comes to this site in lieu of watching it on TV. There are no points at NC for knee-jerk, context-free one-liners (“Boo ____!” or “Yay!”) that only those who are also watching can make sense of; that’s for Facebook or Reddit.

I think it adds more value if you take a moment, use your critical thinking skills, then comment, and readers can discuss what you say. That way, those who cannot watch the debate — or can’t stand to do so — can get a good idea of what really happened by reading what you write after the fact. This is what the NC commentariat is so very good at, after all. Last time, the times before that, and this time. Thank you!

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