The mute button made its grand debut at the Oct. 22 presidential debate, and people were ready. After the first Sept. 29 debate devolved into a trainwreck of interruptions and miscommunication, the Commission on Presidential Debates made a few format changes — including using a mute button to prevent candidates from talking over one another. Viewers on Twitter had a lot to say about the mute button, and these tweets about the mute button at the Oct. 22 presidential debate all ask the same thing.
While President Donald Trump has always had issues with being cut off mid-sentence, he’s had no problem cutting other people off in the past. During the first presidential debate, the president repeatedly interrupted Vice President Joe Biden over the course of his response time, prompting the Democratic candidate to eventually say, “just shut up, man,” and “keep yapping, man,” out of visible exasperation. It prompted the Commission on Presidential Debates to introduce a mute button into the Oct. 22 debate, in which each candidate would be granted two full minutes with their opponent's microphone turned off in which to answer. But despite the changeup, Trump continued to try to talk over Biden, and repeatedly attempted to interrupt moderator Kristen Welker.
Viewers on Twitter were wondering why the mute button didn't play a larger part in quelling Trump's interruptions.
While Biden’s campaign has been largely accepting of the Debate Commission’s COVID-safe format changes, the Trump administration has been notably less so. After the commission announced the second debate, originally planned for Oct. 15, would be switched to an online format in light of Trump’s Oct. 1 coronavirus diagnosis, the president declined to participate. In an early October interview with Fox News, Trump stated, "I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating is all about.” The debate was eventually canceled.
He also previously complained about the planned mute button for the debate, painting himself as a victim in the situation. "I think the mute is very unfair," he told reporters on Oct. 21. "But that's my life."
Even as the debate began, however, the election was already underway. As of Oct. 22, at least 47.1 million early voters have already cast their ballots, according to a report from The Washington Post.