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.”
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.”
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.
Pundits aside, critics abounded on social media as many explored the English lexicon to find their own creative descriptors for the evening:
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said the debate moderator was Chris Matthews. It was Chris Wallace.