The New York Times has an article by Brian Stelter about the presidential debates, Memo Outlines Format and Rules for Candidate Debates. It basically demonstrates the the debates are a sham.
The most important part of the article is a quote from George Farah, “An anti-trust lawyer who runs Open Debates, a group that calls the current debate system antidemocratic.” He says:
Of course, there is also the argument that Lawrence O’Donnell has put forth that the debates are basically useless because they don’t test what a president actually does.
But Farah is correct that we can’t get to the heart of what the candidates believe if we can’t have an honest debate—artificial as the whole process may be.