Donald Trump yells with his eyes closed.

The Topics Have Been Set for the First Presidential Debate & It’s Going To Be a Mess

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The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is scheduled for next Tuesday, September 29th, and I have trouble even imagining what that will look like. When I try, it’s just a blank void. The two will meet in person but presumably socially distanced at the shared campus of Case Western University and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. I’m going to guess Biden will wear a mask and Trump will say something snarky about it. We know Trump is going to lie–a ton–and get indignant when he’s called on those lies. It would probably be worse if there weren’t any debates at all but honestly, it’s hard to see the point of this.

Making the whole concept of a debate even more pointless (for Biden and voters seeking an actual conversation on the issues, that is–Trump is doing just great) is the fact that the first debate will be hosted by the extremely partisan Fox News, with moderator Chris Wallace picking the topics.

The evening will be divided into six 15-minute segments, each dedicated to a single topic. And those (tentative) topics are:

–The Trump and Biden Records

–The Supreme Court


–The Economy

–Race and Violence in our Cities

–The Integrity of the Election

These topics are peak Fox News, especially “Race and Violence in our Cities.” That subject seems specifically designed to let Trump list off his favorite talking points: the dangers of “antifa,” the horrors of Democrat-led cities, and Joe Biden’s (not real) plan to let violent city-dwellers destroy the suburbs.

This is going to be a mess.

(image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.