Trump Campaign Accuses Debate Moderator of Bias

The ex-US president has said he does not expect CNN’s debate hosts to be fair

Donald Trump’s campaign spokeswoman has said that the Republican candidate will be facing a hostile environment when he debates US President Joe Biden on CNN, after the network cut her off for “disrespecting” the moderator.

Under the terms set by Biden’s campaign, CNN will host the first clash of the candidates on Thursday, even before the Republicans and the Democrats formally confirm their nominations for a rematch of the 2020 election. 

“CNN cutting off my microphone for bringing up a debate moderator’s history of anti-Trump lies just proves our point that President Trump will not be treated fairly in Thursday’s debate,” Karoline Leavitt, the campaign’s national press secretary, told Fox News Digital on Monday. 

“President Trump is still willing to go into this 3-1 fight to bring his winning message to the American people, and he will win,” added Leavitt.

After Trump challenged Biden to a debate “any time, anywhere, any place,” the incumbent Democrat’s campaign offered two clashes, respectively hosted by CNN and ABC. While being interviewed by CNN on Monday morning, Leavitt said Trump would be “knowingly going into a hostile environment,” bringing up moderator Jake Tapper’s comments about the 45th president.

“So I’ll just say my colleagues, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, have acquitted themselves as professionals as they have covered campaigns and interviewed candidates from all sides of the aisle,” host Kasie Hunt jumped in, adding that “if you’re attacking the moderators, you’re usually losing.” She then stopped the interview. 

When Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, Tapper famously declared that “for tens of millions of our fellow Americans: their long national nightmare is over.” In December 2021, Tapper claimed Trump “did try to kill democracy once, and he’s going to try to do it again,” and in 2023 compared Trump to Hitler over his comments about immigration.

Speaking on Logan Paul’s podcast earlier this month, Trump said the moderators had a 10% chance of being fair to him, noting that he agreed to CNN hosting the debate because Biden’s people probably thought he would not.

“They thought that I wouldn’t do it because it’s CNN, but I’ve done plenty of CNN,” he told Paul. “But I think they’ll be fair. I think they’re gonna try to be fair. As fair as they can be.”

The arrangement both Trump and Biden agreed to has completely sidelined the Commission for Presidential Debates, which had traditionally organized the televised contest. Both candidates criticized the commission’s performance during the 2020 election.