It was a fitting battle for a ratings-obsessed US President who made himself a reality TV star on The Apprentice. However, for some, the two men speaking at the same time on two different channels was at least preferable to them speaking at the same time in the first notoriously resentful presidential debate.For political geeks, a nimble finger was needed on the remote, like switching between two must-see sports matches. Anyone who has taken this trouble has discovered, not entirely unexpectedly, that the presidential candidates are not just from different parties, but apparently from different planets as well.
Trump’s town hall on NBC had a smoother introduction with more bells and whistles. At the outdoor event in Florida, there was a giant white star in a red circle on the ground, reminiscent of Captain America. Biden, in Philadelphia, made a more low-key debut in an auditorium dominated by blue and the words of the constitution.
The president perched awkwardly on a stool, sweating under the studio lights and striding feverishly like “someone’s mad uncle,” as host Savannah Guthrie put it. Biden, on the other hand, looked relaxed in a white armchair like a grandfather with a pipe, slippers and twinkle in his eyes.
Guthrie performed better than the moderators of the First Presidential Debate or Vice Presidential Debate last week. She insisted on Trump whether he had taken a Covid-19 test on the day of the first debate. He came across a variety of answers: maybe, probably, and don’t know.
Guthrie also challenged Trump over his longstanding refusal to wear a mask and America’s high death rate. The president has become on the defensive: “Look at what’s going on in Europe, massive peaks. They did a really good job, but now you take a look at the UK, you look at Spain, France and Italy, there are huge peaks.
What was going on at Bidenworld on ABC? He reminded host George Stephanopoulos that Trump had advocated “crazy stuff” like injecting bleach into your body.
Returning to NBC, Trump said of the virus, “This should never have happened because of China. It happened because of China. And you have to understand that and understand that. But that shouldn’t have happened.
At 8:13 p.m., the president was asked about white supremacy. He became restless.
“I spoke out against white supremacy for years, but you still do. You always start with a question. You didn’t ask Joe Biden whether or not he was denouncing the antifa.
Guthrie continued. “Let me ask you about QAnon. It is this theory that Democrats are a satanic pedophile ring and that you are its savior. Now can you say once and for all that this is absolutely not true and that… ”
But Trump intervened: “I don’t know anything about QAnon… I know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight very hard. But I don’t know.
And then he was back at the antifa. But Guthrie didn’t want to let him go. “Republican Senator Ben Sasse said, quote, QAnon is crazy and real leaders call conspiracy theories conspiracy theories. ”
Let’s check again with ABC. Biden said, “A president’s words matter. Whether they are good, bad, or indifferent, they matter. When a president doesn’t wear a mask or laugh at people like me for wearing a mask for a long time, people say it doesn’t have to be that important.
Guthrie, meanwhile, demanded to know why Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory suggesting that Osama bin Laden was not, after all, killed by the Navy Seals in 2011. Trump said: “He was a retweet, I will post it. People can decide for themselves. ”
Guthrie: “I don’t understand. You are the president. You are not the crazy uncle of someone who can just retweet anything.
The host also asked Trump about another sore point: his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the impending election. As usual, he dropped his baseless complaints about postal voting: “When I see thousands of ballots thrown in a garbage can and they have my name on them, I’m not happy with that.”
At the same time, Biden was talking about the multiple US crises “happening at the same time” and his plan to make big investments in infrastructure. It was calming, reassuring Old Politics but also, it had to be reluctantly admitted, less captivating than the horror show that was set on NBC.
Cedric Humphrey, an African-American college student, challenged Biden over his latest remark that “you are not black” if you vote for Trump. The Democrat discussed criminal justice and education policy. The student was not entirely satisfied. Biden added, “There is a lot more. If you hang around afterwards, I’ll tell you more.
Biden presented a plan to bring all parties to the table to deal with racial injustice. “Most cops don’t like bad cops… You can forbid strangling, but beyond that you have to teach them how to defuse the circumstances. So instead of someone coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg.
Shooting in the leg was a bizarre proposition, but unlikely to come under scrutiny compared to a commander-in-chief adjacent to QAnon and downplaying viruses. Not all echo chambers are created equal; not all shared screens are symmetrical.
As the clock neared 9 p.m., Biden again dodged a question about the Supreme Court’s enlargement, as a voter rushed to Trump: “You look so handsome when you smile. The president looked really satisfied. If he scored higher than Biden, he can already declare himself effectively re-elected. But if Big Brother on CBS won, of course that was rigged.