Headlines call first US presidential debate circus and shame

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Headlines call first US presidential debate circus and shame
Fecha de publicación: 
30 September 2020
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Washington, Sep 30 (Prensa Latina) The first presidential debate for the November 3 elections in the United States left a bitter taste in viewers who saw a chaotic discussion, marked by fierce attacks and continuous interruptions.


Given the frequent incendiary rhetoric of the country's president, Republican Donald Trump, and his tendency to try ridicule his opponents, a similar tone was not surprising in this confrontation with his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

Regarding the discussion that took place last night for 90 minutes at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, the headlines focused more on the insults and brutality of the event, than on the issues addressed in the face of the upcoming elections.

'With cross talk, lies and mockery, Trump tramples on decorum in debate with Biden', was one of the headlines used by The New York Times to refer to the first of three meetings of this type scheduled before the November elections. The Wall Street Journal headlined 'Trump and Biden collide in first contentious debate,' and Politico summarized it this way: 'The president interrupted and intimidated. Biden called the president a clown. Chris Wallace, the moderator, despaired'.

At the same time, many television commentators called the debate a shame and a circus, mainly blaming the president for the chaos of the night.

George Stephanopoulos of ABC News called the event 'the worst presidential debate I have ever seen'; something on which CNN host Jake Tapper agreed, saying it was not even a debate, but 'a disgrace.'

Even the former Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, a member of the team that prepared Trump for the event, acknowledged to ABC that the president was 'too hot' and that it was not the debate they had expected, although he added that the performance of Biden was also not encouraging.

At the moment long awaited by the American public, when many people still have not decided which candidate to support in the elections, opponents argued about the Supreme Court, health care, race relations, election security and climate change.

Added to these issues were the often personal attacks, which had among their lowest points the moment when Trump lashed out at Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic candidate, not only for business reasons, but for his past problems of drug addiction.

My son had a drug problem, but he got over it and I'm proud of him, replied the former vice president, who did not hesitate to call his rival a liar, clown and racist.

Of all the issues discussed, one in particular caught the attention of many analysts and media: Trump's refusal to explicitly condemn white supremacists for inciting violence at protests against police brutality in the country.

According to the president, he would be willing to tell them 'to stand down', but added that almost all the violence he sees comes from the left, not the right, and referred in particular to the anti-fascist movement known as Antifa.

Even in an issue as delicate as the Covid-19 pandemic, which has already caused some 210,000 deaths in the U.S., Trump not only dedicated himself to defending his criticized handling of the crisis, but also opted for personal mockery, by taunting the Democrat for holding small audience events and always wearing masks.

Forty-eight percent of viewers questioned by CBS News believed that Biden won the debate, compared to 41 percent who believed the same of Trump, while the superiority of the Democrat was extended to 60 percent (against 28 percent for the Republican), in a similar CNN poll.

But such results, analysts warned, could be a reflection of past loyalties, and would not necessarily translate performance considerations on stage.

Beyond the individual dividends each contender gets, CNN's Tapper argued that whoever really lost last night with such a debate was the American people.

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