The National Pulse, a website run by former Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam, is driving a popular claim on conservative Twitter that after the publication of the New York Post story on Hunter Biden, the “widely partisan” Commission on Presidential Debates changed the topic of the third debate from foreign policy to several other topics, “the effect being the protection of Joe and Hunter Biden.” However, The National Pulse’s viral article presents no evidence that foreign policy was originally going to be the focus of the debate and the debate topics were not announced prior to the commission’s announcement on October 16.
The National Pulse October 19 article claims that the third debate “was originally supposed to center on foreign policy. But following the release of the Hunter Biden e-mails/laptop details in the New York Post, the wildly partisan presidential debates commission announced that would no longer be the case, the effect being the protection of Joe and Hunter Biden.” The article, as well as similar claims about the debate, was shared on Twitter by:
- Kassam himself and his outlet, The National Pulse.
- Two other self-described news outlets.
- The president’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
- The Trump campaign war room, which shared it twice and also tweeted a clip of Trump campaign press communications director Erin Perrine saying on Fox, “This is supposed to be a foreign policy-focused debate.”
- Former Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint.
- Former Fox contributor Harlan Hill.
- Far-right radio host John Cardillo.
But in reality, the third debate topics were not publicly announced prior to the commission’s October 16 announcement. Many outlets, such as CBS and The New York Times, updated prior content about the third debate with the topics once they were announced, but archived copies from October 13 show no mention of specific topics before the October 16 announcement. The archived October 13 Times article even specified that “as in the first debate, there will be six topics” -- unlike the singular focus on foreign policy falsely claimed by this new narrative.
The only evidence in the National Pulse article about the debate’s initial focus being on foreign policy is this statement: “The National Pulse understands that while ‘national security’ has been included in the list of topics by moderator Kristen Welker, the campaigns had long been discussing the subject being the majority of the debate.” The article does not further support that statement in any way, but it does nurture shoddy, nonsense grievances about Hunter Biden, and attacks the debate moderator over her parents’ political donations to Democrats.
In 2012, the third presidential debate between President Barack Obama and current Sen. Mitt Romney (UT-R) was focused on foreign policy. However, in 2016, the third presidential debate between Trump and Sec. Hillary Clinton included a number of domestic topics, including the Supreme Court, immigration, the economy, and fitness to be president of the United States.
Update (3:48 p.m. EDT): The Trump campaign is now demanding that the debate only be about foreign policy: