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NBC Cheers Biden’s ‘Empathy,’ ‘Facts,’ ‘Best Debate’; Jeer Fox ‘Echo Chamber’ Trump



Thursday night after the final presidential debate, NBC senior Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd went into overdrive for their Joe Biden, bragging that it was not only the “best debate” he’s ever had, but he showed such “care and empathy” with the “facts” on his side to rout the “callous” and bastardly President Trump. 

For the President, the pair bemoaned how he was concerned with speaking the language of “Fox prime time” by attacking Biden “personally” with disinformation and not speaking “to anybody who’s vacillating in the middle.”

 

 

Todd said he could see Trump “trying to sort of re-create his October 2016 mojo,” but questioned why he would brand himself as an outsider when he’s been the President for four years. With that said, Todd seemed to diagnose that as detrimental to voters. Never mind how Biden’s been in public life for almost a half century, but sure, Chuck.

To his credit, Todd conceded that “Donald Trump probably stopped the bleeding tonight and that was an important moment if you’re a Republican,” but that was about it in terms of the niceties.

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt asked him about “the Hunter Biden stuff” and Todd showed his liberal elitism by dismissing it as Trump “speaking the language of Fox primetime” where people like him didn’t know what he was saying (click “expand”):

I’ll be honest with you. I had some — I had several people go, what is that? I didn’t hear that. I don’t understand this. And I simply said, well, you don’t speak that language. And I do think that was part of the President’s problem is that he did speak to folks who already understand what he’s saying. 

Did he actually talk to anybody who’s vacillating in the middle tonight? And did he make a pitch to bring them back to him? I did not hear that kind of pitch. And I do think when he went after Biden personally and he went after the Hunter Biden stuff, if you didn’t follow it closely, you probably don’t quite understand what the hit is. 

And that, folks, is what happens when leftists silo themselves off from reality and dismiss unpleasant stories as Russian disinformation. 

Mitchell went next and boasted how Biden spoke with “facts” on his side: “[T]he fact-checkers are having a field say because…on race, the environment, on minimum wage, on immigration, and separating children, just the facts are very much more so with Joe Biden.”

She continued her Biden campaign spin, marveling at how he had his “best debate” and spoke so admirably of being a president for all Americans versus the divisive Trump leveling “allegations which have not been proved” against her candidate (click “expand”):

I think that the callous aspects of separation of children, you know, these are the issues, on COVID, that I think, really do resonate with those suburban women. That is why the President has been losing the support from those women. I was in Pennsylvania yesterday talking to people and it is very clear that is key problem that he is having. Losing the support of suburban women and the President, of course, is hoping that he can gain them back or have enough voters in rural areas, other voters, other white men, and bringing them back into the fold. 

But right now, I think in this debate, the care and empathy that Joe Biden showed and it was the best debate I’ve ever seen Joe Biden do. I think that he rose to the challenge. He didn’t get rattled and I agree with — with Chuck that the intricacies of these allegations which have not been proved, I think, will escape a lot of people except through the echo chamber. And of course, the President, the White House have a very big megaphone and they do have Fox and their whole media operation who will keep — keep amplifying it. But again, I think the things people really care about, the health of their children, they are going to hear this debate and hear Joe Biden talk about being president of all — all of the people and not being that combative.

Predictably, these lines of thought were applauded and echoed by liberal panelist and former Obama official David Plouffe to bolster his points, including here: “I think part of Donald Trump’s problem for his entire presidency, he’s living in this Fox alternative version of reality, which there is a lot of intensity there but that’s like, at most, 30 percent of the country.”

Thankfully, NBC brought on solid conservatives in Hugh Hewitt and Rich Lowry to counterbalance former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Plouffe.

Immediately after the debate, Holt declared “the fact-checkers…will be up late tonight” (presumably, he meant against Trump) and observed that Trump devolved as the debate went along toward “flashes” of “the last debate, a little more combative, talking over, but certainly a lot more restrained than we saw him in the first debate.”

Today co-host Savannah Guthrie concurred:

[W]e had a real debate. There was substance discussed. There were policies discussed. There was back and forth. I think it’ll be a relief to a lot of people that there wasn’t that interrupting that we saw in the first debate. It didn’t devolve into deeply personal areas and the American people got a real look tonight at what the choice is before them. 

NBC’s support for Biden and dismissal of uncomfortable storylines were made possible by advertisers such as Progressive and Volkswagen. Follow the links to the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.

To see the relevant NBC transcript from October 22, click “expand.”

2020 Presidential Debate 2: NBC News Special
October 22, 2020
10:36 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: And there you have it. The second Presidential debate. Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The fact checkers will have — will be up late tonight, I think it is fair to say. And we’ll have more to talk about that in a moment. But what we saw there, a much different presentation than we saw in the last debate. We saw two Donald Trumps there. The flashes near the end of the one we heard in the last debate, a little more combative. Talking over, but certainly a lot more restrained than we saw him in the first debate.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Yeah. And we had a real debate. There was substance discussed. There were policies discussed. There was back and forth. I think it’ll be a relief to a lot of people that there wasn’t that interrupting that we saw in the first debate. It didn’t devolve into deeply personal areas and the American people got a real look tonight at what the choice is before them. 

HOLT: And the question is, did each of these men do what they needed to do under the circumstances, 12 days out from the election. The polls being what they are. Let’s go to Chuck Todd right now, who’s been watching along with us. Chuck, right off the top. What stood out? 

CHUCK TODD: Well, first of all, the muted mics thing turned out to be a good idea. I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical but I think it was actually a helpful tool. I do want to give a shout out to our colleague, Kristen Welker who, I think, just had a — a tremendous command of this debate and I think it actually helped facilitate what was — look, at the end of the day, I do think viewers got the measure of both these men. I think this debate distilled who they are. I think in many ways, if you’ve been following this campaign closely, you probably did not learn a lot. But compared to what we saw in that first debate, I think there’s almost a sigh of relief that we at least got an idea of what each might do. The thing that struck me the most though about this debate was how much the President took his defensiveness and tried to act like a challenger candidate. He didn’t really talk about what he would do in a second term. He would not talk about sort of defending, he would defend some of the attacks on himself, but he kept trying, in some ways, he was trying to make Joe Biden the incumbent. He’s been trying to sort of re-create his October 2016 mojo, which I get, but he’s the incumbent President. And I think, ultimately tonight, the question I have is, he was trying to deflect answers on health care, deflect answers on COVID, deflect answers on the economy, are folks watching that going, wait a minute, who has been the President the last four years? You or that other guy? And that’s the question I have. I think, though, Donald Trump probably stopped the bleeding tonight and that was an important moment if you’re a Republican tonight.

HOLT: Was President able to pump some air into this October surprise that he’s been — he’s been working? The emails, the Hunter Biden stuff. He kept bringing it up.

TODD: I felt as if when he would talk about certain things, that issue and a couple other things, and I want to say this very shorthand, I felt like he was speaking the language of Fox prime time. And if you watch a lot of Fox prime time, you understood what he was saying. But if you don’t, you have no idea. I’ll be honest with you. I had some — I had several people go, what is that? I didn’t hear that. I don’t understand this. And I simply said, well, you don’t speak that language. And I do think that was part of the President’s problem is that he did speak to folks who already understand what he’s saying. Did he actually talk to anybody who’s vacillating in the middle tonight? And did he make a pitch to bring them back to him? I did not hear that kind of pitch. And I do think when he went after Biden personally and he went after the Hunter Biden stuff, if you didn’t follow it closely, you probably don’t quite understand what the hit is. 

GUTHRIE: Let me bring in Andrea Mitchell, NBC senior Washington correspondent. Andrea, it is suburban women are the voters to get. They’re ones who will decide the election. There was a much crisper presentation from both candidates, actually, tonight. And I’ll echo Chuck Todd. We’re cheering for the home team, I think, because of the able moderation of Kristine Welker —

ANDREA MITCHELL: Yes.

GUTHRIE: — our colleague. But that aside, do you think that those swing voters will take away anything tonight that could possibly help them change their minds?

MITCHELL: I do. I think, first of all, they saw a real debate. And kudos to Kristen and the way it was structured. The tremendous amount of work that went into it and the command she asserted., but — that she actually got them to debate with each other, so you heard an contrast in policies. But frankly, the fact-checkers are having a field say because, by my count on race, the environment, on minimum wage, on immigration, and separating children, just the facts are very much more so with Joe Biden than Donald Trump and I think that the callous aspects of separation of children. You know, these are the issues, on COVID, that I think, really do resonate with those suburban women. That is why the President has been losing the support from those women. I was in Pennsylvania yesterday talking to people and it is very clear that is key problem that he is having. Losing the support of suburban women and the President, of course, is hoping that he can gain them back or have enough voters in rural areas, other voters, other white men, and bringing them back into the fold. But right now, I think in this debate, the care and empathy that Joe Biden showed and it was the best debate I’ve ever seen Joe Biden do. I think that he rose to the challenge. He didn’t get rattled and I agree with — with Chuck that the intricacies of these allegations which have not been proved, I think, will escape a lot of people except through the echo chamber. And of course, the President, the White House have a very big megaphone and they do have Fox and their whole media operation who will keep — keep amplifying it. But again, I think the things people really care about, the health of their children, they are going to hear this debate and hear Joe Biden talk about being president of all — all of the people and not being that combative.

HOLT: Alright, Andrea, thanks. [INTRODUCES DAVID PLOUFFE] David, what stood out tonight and does the Biden campaign have something new to worry about tonight?

DAVID PLOUFFE: I don’t think they have anything to worry about. I mean, I agree with Chuck. Maybe there’s no more bleeding on the Trump side, but Trump’s at a place where it’s not just good enough to stop the bleeding. He’s got to get people who are saying, you know what? I was leaning Biden or truly undecided and now I’m voting for Trump. And my suspicion is they didn’t see anything that said, sign me up for another four years. I thought the most important part of debate was the beginning of the debate which is the issue on most people’s minds, COVID. Donald Trump seemed most passionate when he was attacking Joe Biden’s family. You know, not when he was talking about covid, not when he was talking about health care, not when he was talking about kids separated from their family. So at the end of the day in a race that you’re leading, at the bare minimum you want to leave it feeling like you didn’t erode any support. And I don’t think Joe Biden did that. And I agree with chuck. I think part of Donald Trump’s problem for his entire presidency, he’s living in this Fox alternative version of reality which there is a lot of intensity there but that’s like, at most, 30 percent of the country. And last time I checked, you need 50 percent of the vote to win the presidency.

HOLT: Alright, David, thanks.

GUTHRIE: [INTRODUCES HUGH HEWITT] Hugh, I want to hear what you thought about tonight’s debate. It was a different Trump. To say it was better than the first debate maybe is setting the bar a little too low but did you find yourself wishing you had seen more of this version of President Trump along the way?

HUGH HEWITT: I also wish I had seen it — yes, Savannah, absolutely. I wish I had seen more of this version of Joe Biden at the end. I will transition away from the oil industry. The sleeper moment in this debate came at the end when Joe Biden announced the shutting down of America’s oil industry and that I believe that’s going to be the sound bite that’s going to travel. As I said before the debate, he had to talk to Pennsylvania and the President did, he talked to Pennsylvania repeatedly about fracking and we’re going to see some fact checks on the vice President’s record on fracking. But the oil industry, the return to the Paris accords, that was an unforced error by Joe Biden and I think it will resonate with a lot of middle Americans as being extreme. I think the President was very effective when he spoke directly to the black community. By the way, our colleague Kristen Welker did very well tonight in maintaining the pace and questions. She — I kind of feel vindicated when I told Mark Meadows yesterday she would do just that. She ran a marvelous ship and that’s a very difficult thing to do. And I do believe, though, he made some ground with the African-American community and that Joe Biden got tripped up by Kristen on the Crime Bill — super predator stuff. Finally, although I was listening for the laptop and I heard the Vice President open the door to an examination about it, it did not dominate the way I thought it would. This was just a very solid, substantive debate in which people — very few of whom changed their minds but all of them had their bias confirmation fed one way or another.

(….)

10:53:04 p.m.
3 minutes and 14 seconds

GUTHRIE:  I mean, I think the consensus is both candidates had a good night. Do you think it tightens up the race? 

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I don’t know. I’m not sure it changes the race much. I mean, true, Trump was not a train wreck tonight but he still lied a lot. I mean, he made up a lot of stuff. And that will continue to come out. And the one thing Joe Biden did, I mean, Trump has really never learned how to reach out to people who don’t love him. Biden continually made it about America’s families and made it about America instead of red states and blue states. Every time Trump tried to say, that’s a Democratic governor or a Democratic state, Biden would bring it back and say, you know, this is one country. We need a president who will try to represent everybody and unite everybody. And I think that speaks to those women in the suburbs much more strongly than some of Trump’s, you know, attack, on Biden’s family. 

GUTHRIE: What about the issue of the oil industry, though, Senator McCaskill? This campaign some think will be decided in places like Pennsylvania, the industrial Midwest. Was that a major error on the part of Joe Biden?

MCCASKILL: Well, he’s in transition and I think anybody who has studied climate knows that this is something the planet is going to have to do. And I think he was very clear about fracking, that he believes we can capture the emissions and fracking can continue, which is important in Pennsylvania. But Joe Biden, it was a good example of Joe Biden being honest which, frankly, is just not in Trump’s repertoire. 

HOLT: And Rich, what do you think? Will this tilt the numbers one way or the other? 

RICH LOWRY: Probably not radically. Trump obviously much better than the first debate. Maybe a reason for some Republicans who have doubts about him to come home. I think the theme he hammered throughout the night that Joe Biden has been in Washington forever and is all talk and no action, I think, is potentially a powerful theme. But Biden most of the night was pretty sharp and pretty pointed. Maybe a little overly canned but I think toward the end, he began to fade. He looked a little tired and then did give the Trump campaign a gift that you’re going to hear a lot about in the coming days in saying he will phase out the oil industry, which may be in his written plan but is entirely hearing it from his own mouth in front of tens of millions of people. 

GUTHRIE: Well, since I asked Senator McCaskill about that, let me ask you, Rich, when we talk about suburban women being key in this race, the moment when the president was asked about the separation policy and these 500 children who have — will know — their parents can’t be found by the government and the President said, well, they are very well taken care of. Is that going to come back to bite him? 

LOWRY: It’s — it’s one of the issues together with COVID, together with health care, that he’s just inherently on defense on. There’s just not a good explanation. Now I think the rest of the immigration discussion, he scored some points. He’s right about catch and release, which basically, people come in the country and they say they’re going to show up for proceedings subsequently and they might show up for some proceedings but almost none of them actually show up for the deportation proceedings, to get on a bus or plane to be sent home because no one’s that foolish. So that has been a successful Trump policy that Obama, I think, is — sorry — Biden is wrong about.



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