Unruly, chaotic, fiery, cacophonous and a hot mess: The first debate between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden gave journalists a chance to trot out their fanciest adjectives and prose. The fickle press, however, has already returned to assorted Trump bashing, speculation and wishful thinking about a Biden victory or a reinvented nation.
But wait. Let’s not forget that another debate looms on the calendar. This one promises to present a stark contrast to Tuesday’s bout. For one thing, experts and critics are already proposing to cancel future debates or launch format changes to quell all that chaos and cacophony.
Then there is the moderator to consider.
When debate day dawns on Oct. 15 the moderator will be none other than Steve Scully, senior political editor of C-SPAN. He is a host and commentator for the public affairs channel who is informed and fair, focused and unflappable. He has been with C-SPAN for 30 years.
During that time, Mr. Scully has wrangled live calls from passionate viewers around the world, interviewed presidents and served as senior producer for C-SPAN’s White House coverage. Oh, and he has also attended every presidential convention since 1980.
Politico has praised Mr. Scully for his “evenhandedness.” The New Hampshire Union Leader describes him as “the gold standard for intelligent and impartial handling of conversation or debate on any political issue.”
Needless to say, the culture and style of the second debate may just evolve into a significant event. The polished Mr. Scully could very well increase voter interest and steer the candidates into a meaningful debate at a critical time.
And wouldn’t that be nice.
‘A BULLY FOR YEARS’
The news media is still bandying about the greater implications of past and future debates between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden, with most accounts concluding that Mr. Trump was mean and aggressive, and Mr. Biden civil and accommodating, or words to that effect.
One analyst has declared the clear victor, based on a subtle historic precedent.
“Here’s how we know Trump won the first debate,” writes Matt Margolis, a contributor to PJ Media.
“The left has been calling Trump a bully for years, to what effect? His debate performances against Hillary Clinton were similarly panned. After the first debate between then-candidate Trump and Hillary Clinton, Newsweek noted that Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton 51 times, prompting critics to lambast his attitude as sexist and misogynist,” Mr. Margolis says.
“Trump hasn’t changed much stylistically. But in 2016, you didn’t see Hillary’s allies suggesting that she skip the final two debates,” he recalls.
“What Biden’s allies won’t say publicly (and maybe not even admit to themselves privately) is that they don’t believe Biden can handle any more debates with Trump. If Biden can’t go toe to toe with President Trump, he can’t handle the presidency. That’s what Biden’s supporters are afraid the debates will prove. Based on their reactions after this first debate, it’s clear the first debate proved that already,” says Mr. Margolis.
SUFFERING FROM LOGORRHEA
And one more thing about Tuesday’s debate. At least it taught viewers a new word, and the event sent people scrambling to find out its meaning. Merriam-Webster Dictionary reports that the most “looked up” word at their very busy online site in the last 24 hours has been “logorrhea.”
Interest in the word spiked by 56,000% as President Trump and Joseph R. Biden had their say.
“Logorrhea jumped to the top of our lookups after MSNBC host Rachel Maddow used the word to describe the presidential debates. We define logorrhea as excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness. Logorrhea was created in English in the late 1800s from the Greek words logos, meaning word, reason, speech and -rrhea, from the verb that means to flow,” Merriam-Webster explained.
“It was probably modeled on the much more familiar word diarrhea, which comes from Greek words combining to mean to flow through,” the dictionary noted, though it did not provide the exact number of lookups that occurred on Tuesday night.
Merriam-Webster also said that “shush,” “moderator” and “gaffe” were also popular lookups during and after the debate.
Fox News remains the most-watched network in the cable realm for the 38th consecutive week according to Nielsen Media Research. Last week, only broadcast networks NBC and Fox had larger audiences. In the cable news race, Fox News had 3.8 million prime-time viewers, compared to MSNBC with 1.9 million and CNN with 1.2 million. Fox News has led these networks for over 18 years in a row.
In addition, Fox News completed the third quarter of 2020 with “a historic milestone,” emerging as the first cable concern to top both the big broadcast networks and cable rivals during weekday prime time during the last three months. The current Fox News ratings king is evening host Tucker Carlson, who enjoys an average audience of 4.6 million viewers. He is followed by Sean Hannity with 4.5 million.
Meanwhile, ratings from the programs “Hannity,” “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “The Ingraham Angle,” “The Five” and “Watters’ World” bested NBC’s “The Today Show,” “Dateline” and “Meet The Press” as well as ABC’s “Good Morning,” “This Week,” “Saturday Night Football” plus CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 47% of registered U.S. voters would be “very concerned” about the economy if the results of the 2020 presidential election are contested; 46% of Republicans, 36% of independents and 54% of Democrats agree.
• 31% of voters overall would be “somewhat concerned”; 32% of Republicans, 32% of independents and 30% of Democrats agree.
• 10% overall would be “not that concerned”; 12% of Republicans, 13% of independents and 7% of Democrats agree.
• 5% overall would “not be concerned at all”; 6% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 4% of Democrats agree.
• 7% overall don’t know or have no opinion; 3% of Republicans, 14% of independents and 5% of Democrats agree.
Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,986 registered U.S. voters conducted Sept. 25-27.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.