Trump Bails Out of Virtual Debate

The president seizes an excuse to bow out of another disastrous performance.

Oct. 5, Trump gestures to the press after getting off of Marine OneKen Cedeno/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Mere moments after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the next face-off between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be held virtually rather than in person, the president on Thursday rejected the plan and called it a “waste” of his time.

“I’m not gonna do a virtual debate,” Trump said during a phone-in appearance on Fox Business. “No, I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate, it’s ridiculous.” 

He went on to complain that the whole concept of a virtual debate was inherently unfair to him, They cut you off whenever they want,” he claimed. Moreover, the moderator, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, was a “never Trumper.” Trump also accused the Commission, without evidence, of “trying to protect Biden.”

Those baseless allegations were echoed in a statement from the Trump campaign shortly after his Fox News appearance. “For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic.”

But while Trump was quick to object to the change, it’s likely that it may have come as something of a relief for a campaign in free-fall. Trump’s disastrous performance at the first debate last week, where he appeared wholly consumed with shouting over his opponent with lies and smears, came smack in the middle of a uniquely damaging week for Trump. The week began with the New York Times publishing an explosive investigation into years of tax avoidance by the president, and ended on Friday with Trump being flown by helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Hospital to receive treatment for the coronavirus. Multiple White House officials, their family members, reporters, and residence staff have since tested positive for the virus.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate