UPDATE [14:09 ET]: A senior official with the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) told TRUNEWS Correspondent Edward Szall that the on-air statement by PIX11 anchor Kirstin Cole was incorrect.
The official said that CPD never spoke with Kirstin Cole. He said the town hall participants in the second presidential debate were not allowed electronic devices because of an established rule, and that the non-participating audience have never been allowed to use flash photography or cell phones during the debate because it can distract the candidates.
The official denied Cole’s on-air assertion that the policy was in effect to protect Hillary Clinton from having a seizure.
The official added that multiple announcements, pre-debate reminders by email, and numerous enforcement mechanisms were employed by the CPD to ensure that their no-flash policy was followed by attendees.
The senior official did not specify if press in attendance were exempt from the policy.
On Monday morning, New York City based news anchor Kirstin Cole said live on air that the Secret Service had banned flash photography from Sunday night’s presidential debate over fears it could “inspire Hillary’s seizure disorder.”
(VERO BEACH, FL) PIX 11 news anchor Kirstin Cole announced Monday that the Secret Service banned flash photography from Sunday night’s presidential debate hall at Washington University in St. Louis over fears it could “inspire Hillary’s seizure disorder.”
“For those of you who watched to the bitter, bitter end of this, did you catch this?” Cole posed to the audience. “The comeback of the cardboard camera. Holy 80s drive me to the photo map, Batman.”
“We thought it was a Secret Service thing, banning the cell phones.”
Later in the segment, Cole caught a flash in the face as the rest of the PIX 11 team snapped pictures with disposable cameras.
“Whoa, God. This is why it was banned apparently,” Cole stated. “The Secret Service did not trust people to disable the flashes on they’re cameras, and they were afraid it would sort of inspire Hillary’s seizure disorder.”
United States Secret Service spokeswomen Catherine Milhoan told TRUNEWS her agency did not make the call for smart phones to be banned from the presidential debate. She said, “that decision rests solely with the Commission on Presidential Debates.”
TRUNEWS correspondent Fior Hernandez added that at the most recent Governors debate in Pennsylvania she was asked to refrain from using her personal smart phone. Fior emphasized however, “that rule originated with the media outlet hosting the debate, and not with the debate organizational committee itself."
TRUNEWS correspondent Edward Szall has contacted WPIX-TV, PIX11 news anchors Kirstin Cole, Sukanya Krishnan, and Scott Stanford, the Commission on Presidential Debates, and the Executive Director of Washington University News Service Deborah Vasel for comment and clarification of facts.