Since the first presidential debate came to an end, Donald Trump has been mocked for seeming to blame his poor performance on a bad microphone — even though TV viewers didn’t notice any audio problems whatsoever.
“They also gave me a defective mic. Did you notice that? My mic was defective within the room,” Trump complained in the spin room afterward. “I wonder, was that on purpose?”
He continued in that vein during a Fox News appearance the following day. “When I tested it, it was beautiful — like an hour before. I said, ‘What a great mic.’ … [But during the debate] it was much lower than hers. I don’t want to believe in conspiracy theories, of course, but it was much lower than hers and it was crackling, and she didn’t have that problem.”
Trump’s statements seemed ludicrous — but now it turns out the GOP nominee may have had a point. The commission on presidential debates announced Friday afternoon that “there were issues regarding Donald Trump’s audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall.”
For more detail, check out the commission’s full statement, which is reproduced below:
Oh, uh, never mind, I guess the commission has decided to be extremely vague and esoteric about this rather than giving a clear explanation of what happened.
Some reporters who were in the room, however, have provided more details:
I was in the debate hall -- and this is true. He was difficult to hear at the very, very beginning of the debate. (1/2) https://t.co/m18XUJngWP— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) September 30, 2016
His level was adjusted pretty quickly, though. And he got more animated as the debate went on, and his personal volume rose, too. (2/2)— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) September 30, 2016
Note, as the pool reporter I noticed this in the hall (was in my note Monday night) but it didn’t impact TV broadcast https://t.co/7BEk09vAkE— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) September 30, 2016
So while TV viewers didn’t have any problem hearing Trump, it is at least sort of plausible that he could have been thrown off his game a bit by having trouble hearing himself in the room.
Still, if the account that Trump’s audio problems were only in the very beginning of the debate is accurate, it is worth noting that many pundits thought he actually did rather well in the debate’s first half hour (on stylistic grounds, though not necessarily substantive ones).
Of course, a faulty microphone can’t excuse Trump’s policy ignorance, misrepresentations of the truth, and constant interruptions. But it’s at least a little reassuring to know that Trump wasn’t making up these audio problems out of whole cloth.