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."
.@GStephanopoulos: "I have to speak personally here...that was the worst presidential debate I have ever seen in my… https://t.co/hYHDt6j4Lo— ABC News (@ABC News) 1601434004.0
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.
.@maddow: "What happened on that debate stage is unlike anything that has ever happened on a presidential debate stage ever before."— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin) 1601434001.0
.@maddow: "He is not participating in a re-election campaign. He is arguing that he should stay in office and the e… https://t.co/vSP5oV4KRJ— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin) 1601434207.0
In her telling, Trump delivered a "monstrous cavalcade of increasingly wild and obscene lies."
>> @Maddow: "There's something beyond fact-checking that needs to happen." Trump delivered a "monstrous cavalcade… https://t.co/wM4MUYmQ6G— Brian Stelter (@Brian Stelter) 1601434037.0
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.
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.
This debate was a train wreck. A mess that isn’t good for our country. The President interrupted too much. Biden r… https://t.co/04ZHIF2Yps— Ari Fleischer (@Ari Fleischer) 1601434713.0
Townhall's Guy Benson said Biden succeeded tonight because he presented himself as a viable alternative to people tired of President Trump.
Well, that was bad. Hard to organize thoughts after that chaos, but bottom line: Biden’s overall goal was to look l… https://t.co/mfcN6EUxWu— Guy Benson (@Guy Benson) 1601433867.0
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."
On ABC, Chris Christie says that debate did not plan out as he had prepped Trump for. He called him out for having… https://t.co/7sxwdNOdbZ— Curtis Houck (@Curtis Houck) 1601437681.0
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.
Chris Wallace is the most irritating person on this broadcast, which is saying something.— Michael Knowles (@Michael Knowles) 1601432106.0
Never allow Chris Wallace to moderate another debate again. This was an absolute shit show. The viewer wasn’t even a secondary concern.— Dana Loesch (@Dana Loesch) 1601433614.0
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.
Tonight, “Moderator” Chris Wallace allowed Joe Biden to repeat the Charlottesville “Very Fine People” Lie unchallen… https://t.co/FgxToEdvkG— Benny (@Benny) 1601439392.0
Ok, I don’t generally nitpick moderators, but Chris Wallace asking Joe Biden about the “very fine people” thing wit… https://t.co/uDKvHaKFCD— Jesse Kelly (@Jesse Kelly) 1601430941.0
Wallace was also criticized for appearing to take Biden's side on the issues.
Chris Wallace, over the course of the night, has moved from moderator to debater.— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1601432459.0
And Chris Wallace did not ask Biden to denounce Antifa - journalistic malpractice https://t.co/Qcj0tfg4vq— Benny (@Benny) 1601438459.0
Biden claimed tonight, after helpful prompting from Chris Wallace, that he does not support the Green New Deal. Bi… https://t.co/i0o2macDgg— Sean Davis (@Sean Davis) 1601438428.0
Just FYI, critical race theory is NOT “racial-sensitivity training,” contra Chris Wallace’s ill-informed framing.… https://t.co/lSmaziTVmq— Sohrab Ahmari (@Sohrab Ahmari) 1601438326.0
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.
CBS NEWS BATTLEGROUND TRACKER Instant poll of debate watchers: more say Joe Biden won tonight’s debate https://t.co/dHZqV95wqB— CBS News Poll (@CBS News Poll) 1601434691.0
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.
Spanish speaking viewers of Telemundo expressed their preference of who won tonight’s presidential debate: 66% Trum… https://t.co/HAcpy1cEUS— Daniel Garza (@Daniel Garza) 1601435002.0
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.
If you liked these two candidates coming in, you probably like this cranky and personally spiteful debate. If you w… https://t.co/14Zslvox2L— Steve Deace (@Steve Deace) 1601431464.0
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 .