CNN chief hopes to avoid ‘heat’ from Trump-Biden debate

CNN chief hopes to avoid ‘heat’ from Trump-Biden debate

CNN CEO Mark Thompson said he is hoping the network will host an enlightening but not nasty debate between President Biden and former President Trump on Thursday.

“The fact that we got it was something of a moment for us,” Thompson told The New York Times. “Much of the reaction of the public, the rest of the media and other politicians is going to depend on President Trump and President Biden, who are the stars of the show.”

Thompson, who took over as CNN’s chief executive last fall, said of the format for Thursday’s clash, “It’s been done in a way, at least in principle, that is designed to get as much light as possible, and not to be overwhelmed with heat.”

CNN has said microphones will be muted throughout the debate except when it’s that candidate’s turn to speak. Moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will also be empowered to “use all tools at the disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion,” the outlet said.

This week, CNN has come under heavy criticism from the Trump campaign, accusing the network of bias against the former president, who regularly ridicules the channel.

That fury was ignited when CNN morning anchor Kasie Hunt cut off an interview with Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt, after she tried to attack Tapper and Bash.

The onslaught of criticism against Tapper and Bash led CNN to issue a statement Monday afternoon defending the two longtime cable news anchors, saying there are “no two people better equipped to co-moderate a substantial and fact-based discussion.”

Tens of millions are expected to tune into CNN’s debate from Atlanta, which will be simulcast on several other national news networks and streamed by millions more online.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.