“Disgraceful.” “Dumpster fire.” “A complete disaster on all fronts.” News commentators around the country had some choice words following the first of three presidential debates between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden.
“That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper. “That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace."
Tapper’s colleague Dana Bash had even sharper words: “I’m just going to say it like it is. That was a [expletive] show.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who moderated a Democratic primary debate, also commented on the chaotic night: “As someone who has watched for 40 years, that was the worst presidential debate I have ever seen.”
On NBC, “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt said, “If hearing that this debate is over was music to your ears, you may not be alone … I’m at a bit of a loss for words here to describe what we’ve just witnessed.”
NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd called it a “train wreck of the making of one person. We know who did it. President Trump did this. And in some way, it’s the only way he knows what to do. He bulldozed over Chris Wallace, bulldozed and, at times, flustered Joe Biden.”
Some news personalities criticized debate moderator Chris Wallace for his inability to gain control over the night. MSNBC host Nicole Wallace said Chris Wallace “did not act like a moderator” and that Trump “did not act like a debater." “Donald Trump was the abuser, and Chris Wallace was among the abused," Nicole Wallace said.
“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah also denounced the moderator’s performance: “Chris Wallace, thank you for your service and I hope you have a lot of money for your therapy. You made a valiant effort. But you were not ready for this, because no human being could have been ready for this.”
CBS host Norah O’Donnell questioned whether the next two debates should even happen.
“I think one of the questions we’re all asking tonight is can we really have two more of these debates with the type of behavior that was displayed," O’Donnell said.
Meanwhile, the pundits at Fox News had different interpretations. Sean Hannity said Biden was “steamrolled” by President Trump. Hannity said Biden was unable to respond to the president’s “beat downs,” and called the former vice president “extremely weak," “frail," “cranky," and “kind of confused."
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said Trump “came off as an enormously forceful personality, and if strength is what you’re looking for, people would judge him the winner." Hume continued that Trump “was like a bucking bronco the entire time.”
As for Biden — who Hume earlier in the evening repeatedly said was “senile” — he “came across as competent” during the debate.
ABC News contributor and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for the debate, described the president’s performance as “too hot."
“Listen, you come in and decide you want to be aggressive, and I think it was the right thing to be aggressive, but it was too hot," Christie said.
Christie said he thought Biden “looked very shaky” and did not turn in a “reassuring performance."
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.