For over the past week, Bleeding Cool's been covering the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had across the pop culture landscape. Over the past few weeks, we've witnessed the cancellation of Emerald City Comic Con and the postponing of Coachella, shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune going without live studio audiences, Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shutting down filming in Prague, and sporting events on both the college and pro levels considering games without fans in attendance. Now comes word that the portion of the venn diagram where entertainment and politics overlap isn't immune, either – with CNN announcing Tuesday night that the Sunday, March 14 Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would run without a live audience or a post debate "spin room" (media room/press area for interviews).
Scheduled to take place in Phoenix at Arizona Federal Theatre, with Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Univision's Jorge Ramos serving as moderators, the debate is being co-hosted by CNN and Univision. The Democratic National Committee and CHC Bold – the political action committee of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – are sanctioning the event.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made the announcement, with the move coming at the repquest of Both Biden and Sanders' campaigns. The lack of a live audience directly impacts this debate, as the original format included a segment where the candidates could take questions from the crowd. Sunday night's debate takes place two days before primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.
Here's a look at MSNBC election night anchros Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow making the announcement about the change in format, along with news that post-debate live media access will also be limited: