Twitter's Pick For Debate Loser Isn't Who You'd Expect

The first 2020 presidential debate was full of interruptions. The second debate didn't even end up happening, because Vice President Joe Biden wanted to do it virtually in response to President Donald Trump's coronavirus diagnosis. Trump was not down to argue via Zoom, which has become the new norm for Real Housewives reunions, along with a mute button. Andy Cohen had the option to mute Housewives who were talking over their co-stars. That same tactic was implemented for the third debate (sort of!), along with some new rules.

According to the BBC News, prior to the event on Oct. 22, 2020, it was announced that Trump's audio feed would be cut when Biden starts to speak, and vice versa. After each candidate had a chance to speak, there was time allotted for a response from the other person. An off-camera member of the production crew, who works for the Commission on Presidential Debates, had control of the microphone, not the moderator, Kristen Welker.

Even though viewers couldn't see the person hitting "mute," they were very vocal about the button's infrequency of use. There were plenty of opportunities where it would've made sense to cut out the audio, but it didn't happen often, which is why Twitter users deemed the mute button operator as the unofficial loser of the debate. 

During the debate, Twitter users wanted to hit the mute button

What's the point of having a mute button if it's not going to be used? Did someone mute the mute button? Just, please, make it make sense. Many Americans were perplexed by the scarcity of muting during the final debate between President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden. One viewer couldn't help asking, "Mute button, where are you?" Another person wondered, "Where is the mute button? Why does Trump get the final word every single time?"

One viewer declared, "The person with their finger on the mute button needs to be replaced." One social media user compared the person operating the mute button to a GIF of a man snoring, which was a comparison that was made multiple times throughout the night. Another person asked, "So does the mute button work YESSSS OR NOOOOO ???" 

Yes, technically, the button was used, but not nearly as much as Twitter was hoping for. In essence, the mute button operator had the losing performance of the night. So, is there a reason why the mute button was used less than expected?

The person in charge of the mute button may have been muted

There is a key factor that may have affected the use of the mute button during the second and final presidential debate of 2020. AP News reported that there was one member from Biden's campaign and one member from Trump's campaign keeping a vigil on the Commission on Presidential Debates official muter. So, the person who was in charge of keeping an eye on the presidential candidates was also being watched, which could make for an awkward and possibly counterproductive experience.

While viewers will most likely never know what exactly happened around the coveted mute button, that did not seem to cross their minds as they barraged Twitter with unhappy remarks. "Whoever is supposed to hit the mute button on the debate mics tonight must have fallen asleep," one viewer hypothesized. Asleep (or too nervous to use their power) or not, the person in charge of the mute button did not make it out of the debate unscathed.

Furthermore, some viewers went as far as saying the mute button idea completely backfired.

Why Americans think the mute button backfired

Viewers of the last presidential debate before the Nov. 3, 2020 election may have taken issue with the person behind the mute button, but they also thought the whole idea was not executed well.

While people were originally supportive of the mute button, one Twitter account said it sounded better as an idea. "Mute Button sounded better in theory, did not work in practice. Trump had the last word on every point Biden made," the account tweeted. Another user agreed, adding, "The mute button backfired on them big time."

So why exactly did it backfire? A concerned viewer explained the issue from their own perspective. "Biden can still hear Trump's interruption, which can break his rhythm." So while the mute button may have saved the audience's ears, the candidates were still able to interrupt each other if they spoke loud enough. Another viewer added that they thought Biden in particular would "ramble" as he tried to get his thoughts in under two minutes.

There are clearly ill feelings towards the mute button, and the Commission on Presidential Debates has yet to say if it believed the mute button was beneficial. Will the button will be adopted for future presidential debates moving forward? We'll just have to wait and see.