Two nights of debates between contenders for the Democratic Party nomination produced plenty of fireworks, but what may be one of the biggest moments was actually silent.
Following the debate, candidate Andrew Yang claimed his microphone was muted several times, preventing him from interjecting into discussions between other candidates.
NBC News, in charge of the debates, claims Yang’s microphone was operational and was not muted. A YouTube video published Friday morning shows a different story.
In the clip, Yang can be clearly seen attempting to speak, but while other candidates are heard talking over one another, no audio is picked up by Yang’s microphone.
Supporters Friday morning took to Twitter, hoping to turn the latest show of disparate treatment by the media into a rallying cry that will propel Yang from being a lesser-known candidate into the forefront of discussion.
By the numbers, Yang was permitted to speak less than any other candidate during the two-night debate, logging a total time of 2 minutes and 58 seconds out of a two-hour debate. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the polling leader before the debate, was permitted 13 minutes of speaking time. Only California Representative Eric Swalwell came close to the limits imposed on Yang with a total of 4.5 minutes. Most candidates were given at least 10 minutes of speaking time.
“There were also a few times, FYI, where I just started talking, being like, ‘Hey, I want to add something there,’ and my mic was not on,” Yang told supporters questioning why he didn’t speak more.
Other candidates have expressed similar concerns, including Tulsi Gabbard, who was on stage Wednesday night and spoke for 6.5 minutes. Gabbard was the most Googled name that night.
“It’s clear who NBC wants for President: Elizabeth Warren,” Gabbard’s sister tweeted after the debate. “They are giving her more time than all the other candidates combined. They aren’t giving any time to Tulsi at all,” Vrindavan Gabbard wrote.
Conservative aggregate news source Drudge Report online polling indicated that Gabbard and Yang were more popular with readers than the other candidates.
Left-leaning media organizations and the DNC have a history of preferential treatment to certain candidates. In 2016, the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the DNC coordinated efforts to prevent US Senator Bernie Sanders from having an opportunity at the nomination. Left-leaning news outlets devoted significantly more time to Clinton than Sanders and the DNC leaked debate questions to Clinton ahead of debates to give the candidate an edge.
The Clinton Campaign famously was funding the DNC throughout the election, giving the candidate outsize control of the political party. Clinton used a legal loophole to funnel $84 million through state agencies to avoid violating campaign finance law.
Yang supporters are determined to make sure their candidate isn’t disadvantaged in the same way. #LetYangSpeak is trending on Twitter, and the possible silencing of his microphone seems destined to make Yang’s voice louder.