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CBS’s Dickerson, King Excuse Biden Debate Meltdowns by Arguing He’s Not President



With some ABC journalists rhetorically reporting from Mars, CBS’s post-debate coverage found itself Tuesday night along similar lines as NBC, which likewise placed the lion’s share of blame on the President (instead of Joe Biden or Chris Wallace) for the debate having spun out of control.

So, what CBS’s argument for blaming Trump wielding “a saw tooth” and Biden leaning more towards being blameless? Well, dear readers, Biden isn’t the president. In other words, it was one of the laziest and most tiresome excuses employed in this Trump era (where it usually crops up on CNN).

 

 

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell started to call the affair “a night of chaos and interruption,” as the debate ended, but Cory Booker friend, Obama donor and family friend, and CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King interjected to describe the evening as full of “bullying.”

O’Donnell added “bullying” to her descriptors and sought to take note of shortcomings from both candidates:

The vice — former vice president of the United States said of the President, “you are the worst President America has ever had.” Biden appeared to become prepared for the night. Trump seemed perturbed and so Trump’s strategy tonight was to interrupt, to try to steamroll not only his opponent but also the moderator, who was unable to keep control of the two candidates.

After speculating whether the other debates will be cancelled, O’Donnell called on 60 Minutes correspondent John Dickerson, but was again intercepted by King, who wanted to quip both candidates and Wallace “probably want a drink after this, but all for very different reasons” (and neglecting the fact that the President doesn’t drink).

King then pivoted to her complaint about how it was “at times painful…and very difficult to watch” because “we [had] President of the United States engaging in some of the language, and it wasn’t that it was swearing or cursing.”

“I’m looking for the decorum and decency that you expect at this particular level and it was very hard to get it tonight,” she added.

Dickerson concurred that “the stakes” have “never been higher while a debate is going on” and yet, “the debate couldn’t have been any lower and it was not an equal opportunity experience” in which side sent the evening over the cliff.

He continued:

The President of the United States, who has a duty and stewardship role in caring for those three things was, by far, responsible for a greater share of the jaggedness of tonight at a time when America does not need jagged. America is experiencing jagged and they are looking to these two gentlemen to take the country over in the midst of this period of jackedness, and the President came, it seemed, with just a saw tooth.

Chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett conceded Biden “got personal in ways I think the debate team would have preferred he not” following a quick round of fact-checking three statements (two for Trump, one for Biden) with one Trump statement he deemed “misleading” on young people not being “vulnerable” to the coronavirus because they can spread it to older people where it is more deadly.

Try and wrap your mind around the pretzel-twisting and so-called fact-checking that went on to arrive at that conclusion.

Fast-forward to when the trio of Dickerson, King, and O’Donnell wrapped the evening, they largely stuck to the same tone they had from nearly 20 minutes earlier (click “expand”):

O’DONNELL: [M]any people were watching this debate with a pit in their stomach. At two times, I think, Vice President Joe Biden called the President “a clown” and said “will you just shut up.” Did this really, I ask this question, serve the voter in terms of a real policy discussion about the issues? And who did it ultimately benefit?

DICKERSON: [N]o, I don’t think it served the voters, in the sense that it was — you know, the President was constantly interrupting and then it got into this bicker-fest. The 17 percent who said they felt informed are very optimistic because I’m surprised the number is that high. Part of the job of the President is to explain complicated things that are happening and why Americans should follow them, and why there is hope for the future and we didn’t get that.

O’DONNELL: But, Gayle, did Biden come more prepared in some ways. I mean, he said this is not about my family or his family. It’s about your family to the American people.

KING: I thought when he talked into the camera, he was very effective. He did try to keep things on track. He did try to say exactly what he wanted to say, and I thought he made a connection with the American people. I thought that was important to do tonight.

DICKERSON [TO O’DONNELL]: And I think your point earlier, which was, to the extend there’s a long fight about health care, that benefits Joe Biden.

CBS making excuses for Biden was brought to you by advertisers such as ADT, Amazon, and Volkswagen. Follow the links to the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.

To see the relevant CBS transcript from September 29, click “expand.”

CBS News: The First Presidential Debate
September 29, 2020
10:39 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: And thus the first presidential debate of 2020 concludes. A night of chaos and interruption where —

GAYLE KING: Bullying.

O’DONNELL: — bullying, where the vice — former vice president of the United States said of the President, “you are the worst president America has ever had.” Biden appeared to become prepared for the night. Trump seemed perturbed and so Trump’s strategy tonight was to interrupt, to try to steamroll not only his opponent but also the moderator, who was unable to keep control of the two candidates. I think one of the questions we’re all asking tonight is can we really have two more of these debates with the type of behavior that was displayed tonight? John.

KING: You know what I was thinking, Norah? I was thinking that they all probably want a drink after this, but all for very different reasons. I found it at times painful to watch and very difficult to watch. You know, we have the President of the United States engaging in some of the language, and it wasn’t that it was swearing or cursing. It was just — I’m looking for the decorum and decency that you expect at this particular level and it was very hard to get it tonight.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we should remember what the stakes are. They’ve never been higher while a debate is going on.

KING: Yes.

DICKERSON: We have 200,000 dead from COVID, an economy that is cratering, and we have significant ongoing racial unrest over the injustices in the American system and when the stakes were that high, the debate couldn’t have been lower. And it was not an equal opportunity experience. The president of the United States, who has a duty and stewardship role in caring for those three things was, by far, responsible for a greater share of the jaggedness of tonight at a time when America does not need jagged. America is experiencing jagged and they are looking to these two gentlemen to take the country over in the midst of this period of jackedness, and the President came, it seemed, with just a saw tooth.

(….)

10:43 p.m. Eastern

O’DONNELL: Major, I have to just also, after all that fact checking, though, get your take on what just happened tonight.

MAJOR GARRETT: So, to your point, Norah, the President clearly wanted to do everything he could to get Joe Biden, the former vice president, either off his game or distracted by his mere presence and I was in contact with Biden debate prep specialists and they said the big challenge for the former vice president was to not take that, was to stay on point. He tried the best he could, but he also got personal in ways I think the debate team would have preferred he not.

(….)

10:57 p.m. Eastern

O’DONNELL: Yeah, many people were watching this debate with a pit in their stomach. At two times, I think, Vice President Joe Biden called the President “a clown” and said “will you just shut up.” Did this really, I ask this question, serve the voter in terms of a real policy discussion about the issues? And who did it ultimately benefit?

DICKERSON: You know, I don’t know. I mean, no, I don’t think it served the voters, in the sense that it was — you know, the President was constantly interrupting and then it got into this bicker-fest. The 17 percent who said they felt informed are very optimistic because I’m surprised the number is that high. Part of the job of the President is to explain complicated things that are happening and why Americans should follow them, and why there is hope for the future and we didn’t get that.

O’DONNELL: But, Gayle, did Biden come more prepared in some ways. I mean, he said this is not about my family or his family. It’s about your family to the American people.

KING: I thought when he talked into the camera, he was very effective. He did try to keep things on track. He did try to say exactly what he wanted to say, and I thought he made a connection with the American people. I thought that was important to do tonight.

DICKERSON [TO O’DONNELL]: And I think your point earlier, which was, to the extend there’s a long fight about health care, that benefits Joe Biden.



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