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Trump campaign told Fox News that Biden’s team asked for breaks during the debate

Published Sep 29th, 2020 3:36PM EDT
Presidential debate
Image: Al Drago - Pool via CNP/MEGA

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  • Ahead of Tuesday night’s first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Trump’s campaign requested that former Vice President Biden submit to a check for any electronic earpieces — presumably so he couldn’t, you know, cheat during the debate.
  • Biden’s camp as of the time of this writing has refused. Meantime, an unnamed Trump source also told Fox News that Biden representatives requested multiple breaks during tonight’s debate, which is most likely not true.
  • Tonight’s presidential debate is set to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

One of President Trump’s oft-repeated lines of attack against his rival Joe Biden, heading into tonight’s presidential debate, is that the former Vice President has, shall we say, lost a step since 2016 and the end of the Obama administration. “Sleepy Joe” is the nickname Trump has bestowed on the veep, who has been subject to a barrage of attacks from Trump criticizing Biden for being too senile to be the commander-in-chief. These attacks reached their apotheosis on Tuesday, in the hours ahead of the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden, with Trump’s campaign making a big show of demanding that Biden be checked for an electronic earpiece tonight (insinuating that Biden is too old to debate appropriately without the help from answers being piped into his ear).

And, for good measure, Trump’s campaign also got Fox News to run the following tidbit — that Biden’s campaign, according to a Trump source, has requested breaks every 30 minutes during tonight’s debate. “Our guy doesn’t need breaks,” an unnamed source told Fox. “He gives 90-minute speeches all the time.”


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It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: The claim that Biden’s campaign requested breaks during tonight’s debate is … well, this is a mass media publication, so I can’t use the adjective that I want, but it’s absolutely false. Both Biden and Trump have done this already. They’ve each debated many, many times, in fact, and are well familiar with the norms and expectations surrounding presidential debates. They do not include breaks.

There is not a chance in hell Biden’s people asked that their man be allowed to take not one but multiple breaks during tonight’s debate, which some people have speculated might be the most-watched president debate of all time (that was a prediction, at any rate, included in Monday night’s Reliable Sources media newsletter from CNN host Brian Stelter).

As far as the earpieces go, also per Fox News, Trump’s campaign requested that an independent third party check both Trump and Biden’s ears for electronic devices ahead of tonight’s debate. Trump’s people said they’re fine with that — even though who among us thinks the president’s answers are of the quality that suggests he could be cheating? — but Biden’s camp declined.

According to New York Post Washington correspondent Ebony Bowden, Biden’s team actually was OK with checking for earpieces but backtracked, according to “a source familiar” with the matter.

This all calls to mind the furor that erupted in conservative media back in 2016, when right-leaning outlets tried to suggest that then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (who, incidentally, launched a podcast today titled You and Me Both) was wearing an earpiece during a debate with then-candidate Trump.

Biden, for his part, tried to one-up Trump in his own way in the hours before tonight’s debate — which gets underway at 9 p.m. Eastern Time across all the major news networks and channels.

On Sunday, you’ll recall, Trump was hit with a major New York Times bombshell report which found that the president paid no federal income tax for at least a decade and only paid a mere $750 the year he won the White House. On Tuesday, Biden released his own tax returns, showing that he paid $300,000 for 2019.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.