While “dumpster fire,” “train wreck,” and “monstrous” could all be used to describe most of 2020, they were instead used to describe the first presidential debate.
President Donald Trump faced off against former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday in the first of a series of presidential debates ahead of the upcoming election. The pair of septuagenarians pulled no punches on Tuesday night, engaging in heated, if not downright incoherent, arguments within nearly the first five minutes.
With no commercial breaks, viewers were subjected to 90 minutes of intense intervals of cross-talk while moderator Chris Wallace poorly attempted to restore order. At the close of the debate, many commentators on cable networks responded to the night with perplexed faces and bold declarations of how much of a “shitshow” it was.
Jake Tapper told viewers on CNN that the debate “was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.”
“That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace. And it’s primarily because of President Trump,” he said, noting Trump’s lies, repeated interruptions of Biden, and refusal to condemn white supremacists throughout.
Dana Bash responded to Tapper by calling the night a pure “shitshow,” because it’s the “only phrase I can think of to really describe it.”
"That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck," @jaketapper says. "That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn't even a debate. It was a disgrace.""That was a shit show," @DanaBashCNN adds. pic.twitter.com/EhTIeM7Skc
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) September 30, 2020
Also on CNN, Wolf Blitzer said: “Clearly this debate was an embarrassment for the United States.”
Savannah Guthrie told NBC News viewers that she thought the debate was “crazy,” while Chuck Todd echoed Tapper’s sentiments: “It was a train wreck. But it was a train wreck of the making of one person. We know who did it. President Trump did this.”
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 30, 2020
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow told viewers that what Americans witnessed tonight was a “monstrous, unintelligible display of logorrhea.”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos called the debate the “worst” he’s watched in 40 years.
“I have to speak personally here as someone who’s watched presidential debates for 40 years, as somebody who’s moderated presidential debates, as somebody who’s prepared candidates for presidential debates, as someone who’s covered presidential debates — that was the worst presidential debate I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
In contrast, Fox News aired a chyron declaring that Biden stumbled his way through the debate.
FoxNews of course nailing the big story of the debate. pic.twitter.com/0EqsZh2w8F
— Will McAvoy (@WillMcAvoyACN) September 30, 2020
Pundits aside, critics abounded on social media as many explored the English lexicon to find their own creative descriptors for the evening:
This debate was a train wreck. A mess that isn’t good for our country. The President interrupted too much. Biden returned the fire, and neither candidate came across well. Both should knock it off in time for the next debate. Debates should air differences. Not be food fights.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) September 30, 2020
This debate is madness. If you support Trump, and truly think that mans cares about anyone but himself you are fooling yourself. He wants division, he wants chaos.
— Sev (@sevian_frang) September 30, 2020
Trump obviously “lost.” But the real loser was America. The president made a fool of himself, lied, yowled like an imbecile, broke rules, incited violence, threatened not to leave office, and refused to condemn the white supremacists he courts. This debate was FUBAR!
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) September 30, 2020
People are calling this the worst debate they’d ever watched. For me, it was the most instructive. The fact that America has millions of people who voted this president to office speaks more about our country than it does about him. Let’s not shy away. Let’s learn. #debates
— José Vilson (@TheJLV) September 30, 2020
That debate was a shit show because Trump is a pile of shit. But we can also see this moment as manure — to fertilize our outrage, our action and our hope for the future!
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) September 30, 2020
Don’t know about you, but this trash debate makes me want to dig deep, organize, and fight even harder. I know we are better than this.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) September 30, 2020
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said the debate moderator was Chris Matthews. It was Chris Wallace.
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