The final 2020 presidential debate will be Thursday, October 22 (9 pm ET) at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, and moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker. Subject to developing news, the announced topics will be COVID-19, race, climate change, national security, leadership, and American families. With 15 days until election night and exploding news cycles, the prediction is high ratings as Americans tune in to see how the candidates and moderator navigate this final debate.
The lingering bipartisan question is will this debate be fair. Will, both candidates, be allowed to exchange ideas without too many interruptions, and will the moderator’s questions be framed to promote healthy debate? This questioning intensified as a video surfaced of Kristen Welker previewing interview questions for a Democrat campaign. The clip is from March 6, 2016, ahead of the primary debate between Clinton and Sanders. Welker is caught on camera feeding Clinton’s Communications Director Jen Palmieri interview questions.
The 2016 Democrat primary race was filled with allegations of establishment deck stacking against Bernie Sanders. This clip fits the narrative that some in the mainstream media preferred that Hillary Clinton secure the nomination to face off against businessman Donald Trump. The most explosive example was Donna Brazile’s admission of feeding debate questions to the Hillary camp after Wikileaks published DNC emails.
As to the upcoming debate, the New York Post paints a grim picture of Welker’s deep Democrat ties and predicts ingrained bias which may lead to an overtly combative moderation experience:
Welker comes from an established Democratic family — who have poured cash into party coffers, and to Trump opponents, for years. Her mother, Julie Welker, a prominent real estate broker in Philadelphia, and father, Harvey Welker, a consulting engineer, have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and close to $20,000 to Barack Obama alone. There was also $3,300 for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and $2,100 for Hillary Clinton’s doomed 2016 presidential effort against Trump. Another $7,300 was contributed to the Democratic National Committee between 2004 and 2020.
So far, in 2020, the presidential debates have appeared to be stacked in Joe Biden’s favor. The first, hosted by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, was widely criticized along party lines. Democrats perceived President Trump as rude and bullish, constantly interrupting Joe Biden. Republicans noted Wallace’s partisan questions and combative discourse with President Trump, contributing to the chaotic 90-minute debate.
The second debate was canceled after President Trump contracted Covid-19 and the Biden camp insisted it is virtual. Trump declined a virtual debate citing transparency and fairness issues. Speculation had already surfaced to question C-SPAN’s Steve Scully’s bias due to Twitter communication with the former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. Scully insisted that his Twitter account was hacked and then was indefinitely suspended as a political editor once he admitted he had lied about the questionable tweet.
Amid this controversy, of note is the fact that Kristen Welker deactivated her Twitter account. Within 24 hours, the account was back and with no new activity. According to DailyMail.com, an NBC spokesperson said that Welker “consulted internally, made sure there was two-factor authentication, and turned it back on.” Some doubt this explanation as the simple addition of two-factor authentication takes a matter of seconds to activate and does not require account deactivation.
After the cancellation of the second debate, the candidates squared off in dueling town halls. Trump faced hard and sometimes curious questioning from NBC’s Savannah Guthrie while Biden fielded gentle scrutiny from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. It was later parodied in Saturday Night Live’s opening skit.
The aftermath from the town halls further fueled speculation of the fairness of the third and final debate. The NY Post’s October 15 bombshell that published Hunter Biden emails from an abandoned laptop and alleged heavy foreign influence pay-for-play that enriched both Hunter and Joe Biden received heavy censorship on social media, making the topic even more explosive in political discourse weeks before the presidential election. Stephanopoulos did not refer to the article, nor did he question Biden about any of the multiple controversies surrounding his son. Welker will have to walk a fine line and discuss everything reasonable to vet both candidates but will she?