The final debate of the 2020 presidential election cycle is tonight in Nashville, with the second nationally televised meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden set to begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT at Belmont University.
NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker will moderate the debate, which will be simulcast across a total of 16 broadcast and cable networks and available on several streaming services and digital platforms. You can also watch the livestream on Deadline (courtesy of PBS NewsHour) here:
Like the first debate on September 28 in Cleveland — which drew 73.1 million viewers across the networks, the third-highest total ever — tonight’s debate will be 90 minutes without commercial interruption, with the subject matter (chosen by Welker) across six 15-minute segments to include fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, which organizes the proceedings, has tweaked some of its rules for tonight after an unruly first meeting between the political rivals. Most notably, the candidate who is not answering the posed question during the allotted two-minute period will have his mic muted. Mics will not be muted during the subsequent open discussion sessions.
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Another late-breaking change: the Plexiglass barriers that previously separated the candidates was removed from the stage today, and will not be used tonight.
There was supposed to be a debate between the candidates on October 15, a town hall-style event, but that was canceled after the commission opted for a virtual debate following Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Trump rejected the virtual format; eventually, both candidates did separate town halls that night on national TV.
If tonight’s event materializes as planned, it will mark the first time since 1996 (President Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole) that there have there been only two general election debates.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the networks’ plans tonight:
ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos will lead coverage from New York City joined by World News Tonight anchor David Muir and ABC News Live Prime Anchor Linsey Davis reporting on the latest developments. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET with Trump vs. Biden: The Final Presidential Debate – A Special Edition of 20/20. ABC News Live will begin coverage at 7 p.m. ET led by Davis and will simulcast ABC’s coverage and the debate to streaming viewers. ABC News Radio will have three hours of anchored coverage led by Aaron Katersky and affiliate news service ABC NewsOne will also provide coverage.
CBS News live, primetime coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET led by CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell from Washington, joined by Gayle King and John Dickerson. CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett will offer fact-checks as part of the post-debate coverage, with analysis by Reince Priebus and Valerie Jarrett. CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 streaming news service, begins coverage at 5 p.m. ET. Elaine Quijano will anchor the coverage.
Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper kick off pre-debate coverage at 7 p.m. ET. At 8, Cooper will be joined by Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, Dana Bash and Abby Phillip, who will also lead post-debated coverage. Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon take over from 1-3 a.m. ET. CNN’s Gloria Borger, Nia Malika Henderson, Jeff Zeleny and Mark Preston will serve as analysts, and commentators will include David Axelrod, Van Jones, Kirsten Powers, Rick Santorum, Michael Smerconish, Andrew Yang and Scott Jennings. The debate itself will stream free on CNN.com and across its apps and via CNNgo.
C-SPAN will provide coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET on C-SPAN, C-SPAN Radio and C-SPAN.org, with phones to open after the debate for viewer calls and reaction.
Fox News/Fox Business
Fox News Channel coverage will be available across all Fox News Media’s platforms including Fox Business Network, Fox News Audio, Fox News International, Fox Nation and Fox News Digital. Special Report’s Bret Baier and The Story’s Martha MacCallum will co-anchor live coverage inside the debate venue beginning at 9 p.m. ET, joined afterward by Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Dana Perino and Juan Williams. FNC contributors Donna Brazile, Karl Rove and Katie Pavlich will also offer analysis. Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto will anchor live coverage beginning at 8 p.m. with Fox Business Network Presents Democracy 2020: The Presidential Debate featuring pre- and post-debate analysis, as well as live coverage of the debate itself.
NBC News’ coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and Today co-anchor and NBC News chief legal correspondent Savannah Guthrie anchoring from New York and Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell anchoring from Washington, D.C. On MSNBC, its Decision 2020 coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET with Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid ahead of the debate, and joined by Brian Williams after the debate. Ari Melber continues special coverage at 12:30 a.m. ET. NBC News Now will provide debate coverage for free featuring Todd and Kasie Hunt beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET followed by the network special coverage at 8:30. The streaming service is available live and on-demand on Peacock. Viewers can also stream the debate live on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
PBS NewsHour will broadcast live coverage from 9-11 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide anchored by managing editor Judy Woodruff and contributions from senior national correspondent Amna Nawaz, White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, Capitol Hill correspondent Lisa Desjardins and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, among others. Nawaz will engage with a panel of voters to discuss their impressions of each debate.
Other digital outlets include Newsy, which begins coverage at 9 p.m. ET with the service streaming on Roku, FireTV, Vizio, Apple TV and Pluto TV. Hulu + Live TV, Fubo TV and Sling TV offer free trials for new users.
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