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Media roundup: Most commentators think the first presidential debate was a 's**t show'

The consensus opinion is the debate was bad

Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The emerging mainstream media consensus is, predictably, that Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden won the first presidential debate of the 2020 campaign. The commentators and pundits also seem to agree that the debate was, to quote CNN's Dana Bash, a "s**t show."

Headlines reported by CNN's senior media reporter Oliver Darcy describe the debate as "pure chaos" and "mayhem."

President Donald Trump's performance in particular is under fire, variously being characterized as "monstrous," "abusive," "horrific," and a "disgrace."

Leading a panel discussion after the debate, CNN's Jake Tapper called it "a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside of a train wreck."

"That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn't even a debate. It was a disgrace," Tapper said. "And it's primarily because of President Trump, who spent the entire time interrupting, not abiding by the rules he agreed to, lying, maliciously attacking the son of the vice president. When asked to condemn white supremacists, he brought up the name of a neo-fascist far right group and said stand back and stand by."

"The American people lost tonight, because that was horrific," he added.

Dana Bash went further, calling the debate a "s**t show."

'Dumpster fire': See Jake Tapper and Dana Bash's blunt reaction to debate youtu.be

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos also said this debate was "the worst presidential debate I have ever seen in my life."

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said the debate was "unlike anything that has ever happened on a presidential debate stage ever before." She slammed the president for accusing Democrats of engaging in electoral fraud and criticizing mail-in ballots.

In her telling, Trump delivered a "monstrous cavalcade of increasingly wild and obscene lies."

MSNBC commentator Nicolle Wallace said Trump acted as an "abuser."

"Chris Wallace did not act as a moderator. Donald Trump did not act as a debater," Wallace said. "Donald Trump was the abuser, and Chris Wallace was among the abused."

Nicolle Wallace said Biden was also "among the abused" and said Trump was "cheating" by continually interrupting his opponent and speaking during his allotted time.

"I think women might have appreciated that this didn't descend into pure violence ... this felt like an assault," Wallace said.

Nicolle Wallace: Trump's Debate Performance Felt Like 'An Assault' On American Politics | MSNBC www.youtube.com

It's not just liberals in the media saying the debate was bad.

"This debate was a train wreck," said Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush. "A mess that isn't good for our country."

He criticized Trump for interrupting too much and Biden for responding in kind.

Townhall's Guy Benson said Biden succeeded tonight because he presented himself as a viable alternative to people tired of President Trump.

Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for the debates, said the president was "too hot" and too "aggressive" but added "that potentially can be fixed."

Many conservative commentators expressed irritation with moderator Chris Wallace, who frequently fought with Trump and tried to get the president to refrain from interrupting Biden.

Wallace came under fire for letting Biden assert that Trump said there were "very fine people" on both sides at the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That is a false narrative, as President Trump was not talking about the neo-Nazis, he was referring to individuals on both sides of the Confederate monument debate. Wallace's refusal to push back on Biden made him a target for criticism.

Wallace was also criticized for appearing to take Biden's side on the issues.

According to a snap poll taken by CBS News, most viewers thought Biden edged out Trump, with 48% saying the Democratic nominee won, 41% saying the president won, and 10% saying it was a tie.

A CNN poll found 60% of respondents said Biden defeated Trump.

Interestingly, Spanish-speaking viewers on Telemundo had a different opinion, saying by a wide margin that Trump won the debate.

BlazeTV host Steve Deace may have had the best summary, offering that if you liked either candidate coming into the debate, you probably didn't change your mind.

The second presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled for Oct. 15. It will be moderated by Steve Scully, a senior executive producer and political editor for C-SPAN .

One last thing…
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