Here’s how many times Trump and Biden were muted during the debate

The second and final presidential debate of 2020 was also the first appearance of a new rule. After the previous debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was marked by constant interruptions, the Commission on Presidential Debates unveiled a change: each candidate would be muted during the first two minutes of their opponent’s response to each question.

But while this rule was now on the table, how often was the mute function actually used? There was at least one moment when Trump was seemingly cut off mid-sentence, prompting Twitter to explode. Some people celebrated the moment, and some even wanted it to happen more often, while others were upset that it didn’t seem to happen to Biden. The reaction, however, was a tad misguided, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Both candidates were actually muted an equal amount, which was exactly what the rules called for. Here’s the total tally.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden were muted equally

The new debate rule, as reported by The New York Times, called for both candidates’ microphones to be muted during the first two minutes of his opponent’s response to each question, whether he tried to interrupt or not. With that in mind, both candidates were offered six questions, and both were muted for two minutes each time, meaning they were each muted for twelve minutes total. The rule was designed to keep either candidate from even having the chance to interrupt; after the first two minutes, however, the gloves were off, and the mics were live.

Many people misinterpreted this rule before and during the debate, believing that moderator Kristen Welker would have a magic “mute button” to cut people off at will. Had that been the case, it probably would have led to even more polarization, as it would have been possible for the moderator to cut off one candidate more than the other. This way, the rule was fair, at least in the sense that it was equal.

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