CNN’s Democratic Debate Will Feature Muted Mics, Two Commercial Breaks

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face a challenge if they try to interrupt each other at the upcoming CNN debate: Their mics will be muted when it’s not their allotted time to talk.

That is one of the details that CNN released today for its June 27 event in Atlanta, where Biden and Trump will meet for the first time this cycle. If all goes as planned, this also will be the earliest general election debate; all others have taken place in the fall.

More from Deadline

CNN also will take advantage of the expected blockbuster audience with two commercial breaks scheduled, another departure from the past. The campaign staff will not be allowed to interact with the candidates during those breaks.

Both candidates agreed to the debate last month, sidelining the Commission on Presidential Debates, the bipartisan panel that has organized general election matchups since 1988.

Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the debate. The network said that both candidates have “agreed to accept the rules and format of the debate,” as outlined in the letters that CNN sent to the campaigns.

Candidates also will appear at a uniform podium — aka lectern — and the only materials they will be allowed to have with them will be a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water.

The muting of mics became an issue after the first debate of the 2020 cycle, when Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden, to the point where Biden snapped him, “Will you shut up, man?” There was more limited muting of mics during the second debate that cycle.

The debate will have no studio audience, although other media will be at the site but not in the room. The network also is planning for the post-debate spin room. The feed of the debate will be made available to other networks as well.

A lingering question is whether independent Robert Kennedy Jr. will qualify for the debate. Candidates must have averaged 15% in four separate polls identified by CNN. Kennedy has reached that threshold in three. But he also has to appear on enough state ballots to have a shot of winning 270 electoral votes. According to CNN, he is on the ballot in six states, or 89 electoral votes.

Biden and Trump also have agreed to a Sept. 10 debate sponsored by ABC News, with David Muir and Linsey Davis moderating.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.