On 27 September 2016, social media users began sharing a claim that Republican nominee Donald Trump had threatened to skip the remaining presidential debates if Hillary Clinton attended was published as part of The New Yorker's "Borowitz Report":
Plunging the future of the 2016 Presidential debates into doubt, Donald J. Trump said on Tuesday morning that he would not participate in the remaining two debates if Hillary Clinton is there.
Trump blasted the format of Monday night’s debate by claiming that the presence of Clinton was “specifically designed” to distract him from delivering his message to the American people.
This item was just a spoof, as "The Borowitz Report" is a well-known satire column penned by humorist Andy Borowitz, but some readers were fooled into thinking that the story was a real news piece. One reason for the confusion may have been that Rudy Giuliani (a high-profile supporter of Trump's) indeed suggested that the GOP candidate should skip the next two presidential debates unless they were overseen by moderators operating under his proposed constraints:
“If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact checker,” Giuliani said. “The moderator would have to promise that there would be a moderator and not a fact checker and in two particular cases an enormously ignorant, completely misinformed fact checker.”
“If you wonder why Donald Trump thinks that the press is a left-wing basically oriented group, Lester Holt proved it tonight," he added.
He later clarified about future debates: “I didn’t say what I’m advising him, I said what I would do.”
Lester Holt, the moderator of the first debate, was also criticized by Trump himself, who said that he had received "unfair" questions. However, rumors that he threatened to skip the next two debates if his Democratic counterpart showed up originated in satire.