CNN, ABC both announce Trump-Biden debates within an hour of each other

Within less than an hour on May 15, 2024, not one — but two — debates between President Joe Biden and Donald Trump have been scheduled for later in 2024.

First, CNN announced it would host a debate between the pair scheduled for June 27, 2024. The announcement was made at the WBD Upfront with CNN CEO Mark Thompson on hand to deliver the news.

Less than an hour later, Biden confirmed a Sept. 10, 2024, debate on ABC. Trump has also accepted an invitation to that debate. 

Neither debate is being organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, but rather the respective networks they will air on.

Though this means that CNN and ABC would normally be the exclusive home to their respective debates, both networks have indicated they will allow other networks to carry the feed.

It’s not immediately clear if any other networks will opt to do this or if the broadcasters will provide a “clean” feed without branding.

Presumably any network opting to pick up the feed would be asked to credit CNN or ABC in some way and the personalities appearing would be from the respective originating network, though in CPD debates moderators are usually drawn from TV, radio or newspaper journalists so it’s not uncommon to see competing talent on those telecasts when they air across most major networks.

In 2022, the Republican National Committee voted to bar future GOP candidates from participating in CPD-sponsored debates, though the Trump campaign has told the CPD he is willing to participate in debates, without referencing the RNC vote.

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There has been no official word on if CPD debates will be scheduled. Biden had previously called for two debates, with Trump seeking more.

At the time, the RNC called for debates to instead be handled by a broadcast organization that hosted a GOP primary debate during the 2016 election cycle and a Democratic one during 2020. Both ABC News and CNN meet those qualifications.

Earlier in 2024, a group of major U.S. news organizations signed a letter urging both parties to have their candidates prepare to participate in debates. At the time, it was not confirmed who the GOP nominee would be, though it was widely expected to be Trump.

CNN says it plans to broadcast its debate from Atlanta without an audience. In the early morning hours of May 16, 2024, CNN announced that Jake Tapper and Dana Bash would moderate the debate.

In a statement, CNN said the decision to not allow an audience is “to ensure candidates may maximize the time allotted in the debate.” 

ABC, meanwhile, will have “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir and ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis moderate. ABC has not confirmed a location yet, though at least some sources report it will likely be in a studio-like setting as well.

More details, including rules and formats, for both debates will be announced later.