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‘An Insult to Our Democracy’: Nets Unleash Debate Hate at Trump



On Wednesday morning, hosts and correspondents for the Big Three network morning shows were absolutely livid over President Trump’s Tuesday night debate performance, exclusively blaming him for making the event a “disgrace” and “an insult to our democracy.” Meanwhile, some tried to paint Biden as the “winner” of the exchange.

Leading off ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host and former Bill Clinton hack George Stephanopoulos ranted: “Overnight chaos in Cleveland. President Trump and Joe Biden head-to-head in the most un-presidential debate ever. Trump ignored the rules with a barrage of personal insults…Repeated attacks, falsehoods, and interruptions nearly every time Biden spoke.”

 

 

Moments later, the anchor who once worked for a man who had sex with a White House intern in the Oval Office, decided he was in a position to pass moral judgement with a near-hysterical tirade:

Well, one word comes to mind, how about disgrace. It was an absolute disgrace. It was a mockery of a presidential debate, an insult to our democracy. From the start, President Trump was determined to defy the rules, repeat falsehoods, attack Joe Biden, dominate the stage….What lingers the morning after, the sense that our civic life has hit a new low.

Following a report in which correspondent Mary Bruce labeled the night a “disaster,” “the worst debate in modern history,” and a “charade,” White House correspondent Jon Karl decided that any GOP talk of Trump being successful was a lie and praise of Biden from the DNC was truth:

Robin, the Trump campaign is trying to say that the President put in a strong performance, the RNC went so far as to say, quote, “President Trump made a confident, commanding, and compelling case for his re-election.” But, Robin, nobody really believes that….Democrats weren’t particularly thrilled with Joe Biden’s performance, but they believe the contrast was crystal clear that there was only one person on that stage who appeared plausibly presidential and it was not the person who flew on Air Force One last night.

Sounding nearly identical to Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Today show began with co-host Savannah Guthrie wailing: “Amazing disgrace….The first presidential debate of the season descends into chaos, insult, interruption, and confusion….A 90-minute meltdown with tens of millions watching.”

Teeing up the coverage minutes later, she lamented: “Yeah, just talking to folks, you know, people seem really shaken by what they saw. A lot of words being used by Republicans and Democrats alike to describe, none of it good – embarrassing, disgraceful, a train wreck.”

Correspondent Peter Alexander dismissed the debate as a “debacle” that was “reaching a new low” due to “A combative and angry President Trump repeatedly ignoring the rules, the facts, and often the moderator.”

During a panel discussion that followed, former Democratic Senator turned NBC News political analyst Claire McCaskill was allowed to repeatedly slam the President unchallenged:

I was shocked and saddened. One candidate came to debate. The other came to take a meat cleaver to one of our most cherished traditions in this country, the presidential debate. I don’t think it’s fair to say that there were both candidates were – made this a debacle. It was Donald Trump who decided that this wasn’t going to be a debate. He was a bully and he was cruel.

Even when Guthrie ever so gently suggested that “Biden wasn’t exactly the strongest, clearest version of himself we’ve ever seen,” McCaskill assured her: “Well, I think in light of what he had to put up with, he was calm and cogent. He talked about uniting the country….I think in light of what he had to put up with, he did really well.” In the real world, Biden was repeatedly flustered, told the President to “shut up,” and called Trump a “clown” and a “racist.”

McCaskill went on to demand that the rules for the remaining debates be changed to include a “kill button” to stop Trump:

I do think the Commission on Presidential Debates has to look in the mirror and decide, do you have a kill button? If the President is gonna do what he did last night over and over again, seems to me somebody’s got to turn off the microphone to allow the speaker to actually make a point without him bullying and jumping in with outrageous lies.

While the top of CBS This Morning largely avoided the hysterics of ABC and NBC, 60 Minutes correspondent John Dickerson did show up to declare Biden the debate “winner” and blame Trump entirely for negative reviews of the event:

And clearly from the responses in the polling, the President was so much more responsible for that annoyance that people felt….So if there was a winner, it was Joe Biden who, again, if you look at the chaos and the mayhem and the unpleasantness of last night, the largest share of it was the result of the President’s behavior. So this isn’t just something where there’s a kind of equivalence in any possible way. So that’s why you would – you would have to think that Joe Biden came away with the night, doing what he would have hoped.

The leftist media have no problem hurling the most vile attacks at the President and his supporters on a routine basis, but suddenly when the Democratic presidential nominee is shown flailing on a debate stage, reporters become the civility police. Funny how that works.

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Here are excerpts of the September 30 coverage on ABC’s GMA:

7:00 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Blistering battle. Overnight chaos in Cleveland. President Trump and Joe Biden head-to-head in the most un-presidential debate ever. Trump ignored the rules with a barrage of personal insults.

DONALD TRUMP: There’s nothing smart about you, Joe. In 47 years you’ve done nothing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Repeated attacks, falsehoods, and interruptions nearly every time Biden spoke.

JOE BIDEN: Will you shut up, man.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The two candidates clashed over the Supreme Court, the pandemic, race, and unrest. And the stunning moment when President Trump refused to condemn White supremacists.

TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Both campaigns addressing the fallout. Our powerhouse political team breaks it all down, just 34 days until the final votes.

(…)

7:02 AM ET

ROBIN ROBERTS: And, George, it is hard to find the words to describe what we saw on that debate stage last night.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one word comes to mind, how about disgrace. It was an absolute disgrace. It was a mockery of a presidential debate, an insult to our democracy. From the start, President Trump was determined to defy the rules, repeat falsehoods, attack Joe Biden, dominate the stage. Joe Biden seemed exasperated, uneven at times, most forceful when he spoke directly to the American people on issues like COVID. What lingers the morning after, the sense that our civic life has hit a new low, Michael.

MICHAEL STRAHAN: And George, our political team, they’ve been working all night covering the fallout. Mary Bruce starts us off in Cleveland. Good morning, Mary.

MARY BRUCE: Good morning, Michael. This was a disaster. It is already being called the worst debate in modern history. Any substance was completely overshadowed by the President’s interrupting and the constant squabbling. There were no winners here on the stage last night. And for Americans looking for answers, this was a real loss for them too.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos in Cleveland; Trump & Biden Clash in Insult-Filled Free-for-All]

Within minutes it was clear this debate was going to be ugly.

(…)

7:03 AM ET

BRUCE: The President badgering Biden.

(…)

7:04 AM ET

BRUCE: Trying to look past his opponent and his attacks over and over again, Biden speaking directly to the American people.

(…)

7:09 AM ET

BRUCE: And as if that charade wasn’t exhausting enough, we still have two more of these. And this morning, the campaigns say the other debates are still on. Their next face-off now two weeks away. Robin?

ROBERTS: Exhausting the is word, Mary. We turn to our chief White House correspondent Jon Karl. Good morning, Jon. So what are you hearing from the Trump and Biden teams about last night?

JON KARL: Robin, the Trump campaign is trying to say that the President put in a strong performance, the RNC went so far as to say, quote, “President Trump made a confident, commanding, and compelling case for his re-election.” But, Robin, nobody really believes that. I heard from Republicans after the debate, some during the debate, frankly exasperated by the President’s performance. The bullying, the rudeness, the incessant interrupting of the moderator, the utter inability to make a case for what he would do in the next four years if he was re-elected as President. You know, Democrats weren’t particularly thrilled with Joe Biden’s performance, but they believe the contrast was crystal clear that there was only one person on that stage who appeared plausibly presidential and it was not the person who flew on Air Force One last night. They also, by the way, point out, the Biden campaign, that they had their single best hour of fundraising last night, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

(…)

7:15 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, some Democrats saying Joe Biden shouldn’t come to the next two debates.

RAHM EMMANUEL: Well, there is obviously – it’s not just Democrats, I think first of all, whatever the audiences hear, it’s gonna dramatically drop in debates two and three in that effort. And I believe, look, every candidate has to have multiple tools in the toolbox, and the President said, “I got only one tool, it’s a drill and it’s just going to go worth any anesthesia.” I don’t think people want to see that and I think the President really hurt himself because it showed that there’s not gonna be anything different for the next four years. And in a presidential election, on an incumbent, it’s either play or trade. I think the American people saw last night they’d like to make a trade.

(…)

Here are excerpts of the coverage on NBC’s Today show:

7:00 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Amazing disgrace.

DONALD TRUMP: You’re the liar.

JOE BIDEN: I want to make sure –

TRUMP: You graduated last in your class, not first in your class.

CHRIS WALLACE: Gentlemen! I hate to raise my voice but why shouldn’t I be different than the two of you?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The first presidential debate of the season descends into chaos, insult, interruption, and confusion.

BIDEN: Shut up, man.

TRUMP: In 47 months, I’ve done more than you’ve done in 47 years, Joe.

GUTHRIE: A 90-minute meltdown with tens of millions watching. Both candidates exchanging tough barbs. And this stunning moment, the President refusing to condemn white supremacists.

BIDEN: The Proud Boys.

WALLACE: White supremacists and right-wing militias.

TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.

GUTHRIE: Online racist groups rejoice. The backlash immediate. Outrage over the entire event heard from both sides of the aisle. Will the first debate of the season be the last? We’ll break it all down.

(…)

7:02 AM ET

HODA KOTB: I think a lot of Americans were up late. I think we were ready for a heated debate, but I don’t think anybody was prepared for the way things unfolded last night in Cleveland.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, just talking to folks, you know, people seem really shaken by what they saw. A lot of words being used by Republicans and Democrats alike to describe, none of it good –  embarrassing, disgraceful, a train wreck. The big question though. What impact is it going to have on voters? The election just 34 days away now. Voting by mail or in-person already underway in 30 states. The President today will be campaigning in Minnesota, while Joe Biden launches a train tour in Ohio and Pennsylvania. We’ve got a lot to unpack. Our political team is ready. Let’s get started. NBC’s Peter Alexander. Peter, good morning to you.

PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Savannah, good morning to you. This really was a debacle. If you were looking for a policy discussion to pick your president, this was not your night. President Trump erupting, barreling through his rival. Joe Biden mostly trying to avoid the fray, but this thing quickly deteriorated. A debate focused on the highest office in the land reaching a new low.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: First Debate Debacle; Chaos as Trump and Biden Interrupt and Insult]

From the very start, the debate devolving into interruptions and insults. A combative and angry President Trump repeatedly ignoring the rules, the facts, and often the moderator.

(…)

7:08 AM ET

GUTHRIE: Let’s turn now to NBC political analyst and former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. And Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review. They watched the debate along with us last night. Good morning to both of you. We were up late and now we’re up early together. And before we get into the usual analysis we would do here, who won, who lost, who benefits, who doesn’t, can we just take a moment and talk about what unfolded? Rich, I mean, we know that politics is tough, okay? It’s not gonna be easy, it’s not the country club. But what we saw last night was not that. It wasn’t just a couple of tough barbs going back and forth. Do you agree?

RICH LOWRY: Yeah, I love fiery debates I love feisty debates, and this was something different. This was a presidential debate that was not worthy of the worst sort of debate you’d see on cable news. And Joe Biden did his share of interrupting, but it was Donald Trump obviously who was the main offender. Now he had a strategy to that, he was hoping to make Biden crack, to have some awful senior moment, to lose his temper. And Biden was flustered at times, but he didn’t buckle. And that’s why I think the President’s approach was wrong from the outset and didn’t work as a strategic matter.

GUTHRIE: Claire, what about you? What did you think about what you saw?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I was shocked and saddened. One candidate came to debate. The other came to take a meat cleaver to one of our most cherished traditions in this country, the presidential debate. I don’t think it’s fair to say that there were both candidates were – made this a debacle. It was Donald Trump who decided that this wasn’t going to be a debate. He was a bully and he was cruel. And it was not an exchange of ideas. It did not lift anyone up. They may have two more debates. The question is, Savannah, will anybody watch them?

(…)

7:11 AM ET

GUTHRIE: There’s no question, Claire, that the President, you know, interrupted a lot, sort of set the tone of the debate early on. But let’s be honest, do you consider this to be a tour de force performance by Joe Biden? I mean, but for the President’s antics, we might be talking about a different story. Joe Biden wasn’t exactly the strongest, clearest version of himself we’ve ever seen.

MCCASKILL: Well, I think in light of what he had to put up with, he was calm and cogent. He talked about uniting the country. I think he was very clear about the failures of the President around COVID and his attempt to take away health care from millions of Americans. So I think in light of what he had to put up with, he did really well.

(…)

7:12 AM ET

GUTHRIE: If you were advising the campaign, Claire, would you say keep debating, keep going, this is a tradition that should go on for the next couple of weeks?

MCCASKILL: I think they’re in a tough spot. I don’t think – they didn’t lose anything last night. We can debate whether or not, you know, Donald Trump lost voters last night, but he certainly didn’t gain any voters last night. So I think they probably need to take the position that they’re willing to debate any time. But I do think the Commission on Presidential Debates has to look in the mirror and decide, do you have a kill button? If the President is gonna do what he did last night over and over again, seems to me somebody’s got to turn off the microphone to allow the speaker to actually make a point without him bullying and jumping in with outrageous lies.

GUTHRIE: I’ll let you, Rich, have the last word. Do you think there should be more debates, do you think there will be?

LOWRY: I think there will be. It looks as though the Biden people are calculating, one, that the next debate is a town hall format, so it will be harder for this kind of meltdown to happen. And, two, it’s a big national stage, so why not use it? I would think – I agree on the Commission. During someone else’s time, the mic of the President or Joe Biden should be off to at least limit some of this cross talk, which is productive to no one.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Claire and Rich, maybe a red buzzer, you know? Or a time-out chair, that’s what I do with my kids. Alright –  

MCCASKILL: Or a net.

(…)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on CBS This Morning:

7:13 AM ET

(…)

ANTHONY MASON: John, as we noted, the President interrupted the former Vice President 73 times at least. And he – that strategy began right from the – right out of the gate. He would interrupt him, seemed to be trying to throw him off stride and rattle him. What do you think was underneath that strategy?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Debate Night Chaos; John Dickerson on First Presidential Debate Between Trump & Biden]

JOHN DICKERSON: Yes, his interruptions had interruptions. I think the strategy was to try to get in Biden’s head, to try to fluster him, to try to make him look – and again, I talked about those things that convey that have nothing to do with policy positions – to make him look like he lacked command, that he couldn’t be president because he was flustered and rattled. And he kind of kept pressing on the accelerator when that wasn’t working. And clearly from the responses in the polling, the President was so much more responsible for that annoyance that people felt as a result of that strategy, which is an incredibly high-risk strategy for somebody who’s already behind in the polls. Who watched the President and thought, “Oh, I’m – I wasn’t for him before, I’m for him now.”

TONY DOKOUPIL: Well, picking up on that point, John, most people, according to the polls, have already made up their mind. Tens of thousands of people have already voted. So what they really want to know is did their guy get closer to getting elected last night? Is it possible to say there’s a winner from all of that?

DICKERSON: Well, to the extent that Joe Biden was ahead, he’s the winner because he’s still ahead in a debate where the President did nothing to change the dynamic of the race and may, in fact, have hurt the dynamic of the race. The President needs to bring people into his fold. And there doesn’t look like there’s anything there for the groups that the President is hurting with that brought anybody into the fold. So if there was a winner, it was Joe Biden who, again, if you look at the chaos and the mayhem and the unpleasantness of last night, the largest share of it was the result of the President’s behavior. So this isn’t just something where there’s a kind of equivalence in any possible way. So that’s why you would – you would have to think that Joe Biden came away with the night, doing what he would have hoped.

(…)



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