Presidential debates update: Trump cries foul; debate topics announced; when, what time are the debates

With less than a week before the first presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump is claiming the system is rigged against him.

Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he feels the moderator of the first debate, NBC’s Lester Holt, is being pressured to ask him tough questions because “Today Show” host Matt Lauer was criticized for seeming to go easy on Trump in a town hall-type event earlier this month.

“Matt was very tough on me, and he was tough on her (Hillary Clinton). But I think he was equally tough, maybe even tougher on me. And they really hit him because I won that debate,” Trump told O’Reilly.

“What they’re doing is they’re gaming the system, like gaming the ref,” he said. “Lester’s a professional, but we’ll see what happens. I mean, I think it’s unfair. I think it’s unfair what they’re doing, …” Trump said.

Trump and Clinton will have their first debate, organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, on Monday, Sept. 26 in Hempstead, N.Y.

Meanwhile, the topics for next week’s debate were announced Monday.  The topics, chosen by Holt, are, "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity," and "Securing America," according to  a release from the CPD.

The format for the first debate calls for six 15-minute time segments. Two 15-minute segments will focus on each of the topics.

The debate begins at 9 p.m. ET and runs for 90 minutes without commercial interruption.

Debate notes:

  • The other two debates will be held on Oct. 9 and Oct. 19.

  • Libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party will not be onstage for the first debate. They failed to make the cut based on their polling results.

  • Moderators for the second debate are ABC News' Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper. Fox News' Chris Wallace will moderate the third debate.

  • CBS News’ Elaine Quijano will moderate a vice presidential debate between Illinois Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine, (D-Va.),  on Oct. 4.

The debates will take place in:

  • 1st - Hofstra University is hosting a Viewer's Guide to Televised Debates, which will offer tips for viewing the debate critically and provide a guide how to be media literate while watching the presidential debates. (

  • Vice presidential debate - Longwood University 

  • 2nd - Washington University in St. Louis 

  • 3rd - University of Nevada, Las Vegas 

According to the CPD

Before the debate:

Facebook and Google will be providing data to the moderators in the weeks leading up to the debates on what people are searching and saying about the election, the candidates, and the issues. Other technology platforms will be engaged in this effort as well including Google, #CollegeDebate16, and many other social media grassroots organizations.

PBS NewsHour together with technology partner Microsoft have created an interactive, civic education site ( that allows users to access every general election debate since 1960, screen entire debates or debate highlights and track how candidates have addressed specific issues in the debates over the years. Users can react to the debates and compare their responses with others through a unique interactive experience. 

During the Debate:

Facebook, the exclusive social media sponsor for the first and third presidential debates, will be on site at the debate host universities. Members of the media, students, and the campus community will be using Facebook Live to broadcast and show what is happening at the debate site. People on Facebook in the U.S. and around the world will be able to watch these videos live, ask questions and comment with their reactions. Facebook will also have an interactive touch screen to show the conversation on Facebook about the candidates and the issues.  

Snapchat will be covering each debate on-site via a "Live Story." These Live Stories will allow users on Snapchat to experience the debates from the many different perspectives of students from the debate host universities, volunteers, media and many others. These compilations of Snaps are designed to encourage the conversation long after each debate is over.  

Viewers will also be able to watch live streams of the debates. Some of the websites and platforms that will feature debate live streams are: ABC News, Buzzfeed News, CBS News, CNN, C-SPAN, The Daily Caller, Facebook, Fox News, Hulu, Huffington Post, NBC, PBS, Politico, Telemundo, The Wall Street Journal, Twitter, Univision, Yahoo, YouTube.

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