The first of three planned 2020 presidential debates is in the books and reviews of the showdown between Donald Trump and Joe Biden are in. Judging by the reactions, there were no winners. However, there were losers.
Deemed chaotic, contentious, and at times incoherent by pundits, the debate was picked apart by pundits and social media. And the reviews posted thereafter were scathing — for both sides.
CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted it was “dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” Dana Bash said it was a “sh**show.” Longtime news host Dan Rather said Americans were “ready to take a shower” after it was over.
Not only did the media blast the debate, but also, Biden himself felt things went off the rails. On Wednesday he called Trump’s performance during the first of the presidential debates a “national embarrassment” and said organizers would need to do a better job at stopping interruptions, Fox News reported.
“I kind of thought that at one point. Maybe I shouldn’t say this,” Biden reportedly said. “But the president of the United States conducted himself the way he did and I think it was just a national embarrassment.”
Trump tweeted after the debate that “(Moderator Chris Wallace) had a tough night. Two on one was not surprising, but fun. …”
Moreover, Trump retweeted the New York Times. The paper called out Wallace’s performance.
“As the moderator of tonight’s debate, Chris Wallace of Fox News repeatedly struggled to keep the proceedings coherent, reduced at times to pleading with the president to pause and allow his opponent to speak,” the tweet said.
Moderator Wallace performance scrutinized
A large majority of the backlash following the debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic focused on Wallace and his inability to stop interruptions. The Atlantic and Slate counted more than 200 interruptions in total from Wallace, Biden and Trump, with Trump interrupting the most at 128.
However, the interruption that has caused the most social media reaction was from Biden. “Would you shut up, man?” Biden’s rhetorical request during the first section of the debate became a meme instantly.
Even Hillary Clinton later commented about it. She tweeted “You have no idea” to someone that remarked that Clinton likely wanted to tell Trump to shut up during their 2016 debates. Which, of course, created its own Twitter ecosystem.
With the coronavirus, a slumping economy, riots in American streets, and a potential Supreme Court seat in the balance, there were a lot of topics to cover during the debates. Each of them came with a flurry of reactions as well as some heated discussion online.
Here are some of the most notable reactions.