Last night kicked off the first of many presidential debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump to come for the 2020 U.S. election, and if you tuned in, well you already know how it went. If you didn’t, we’re sure you got an earful from the massive response it’s gotten today across the internet.
Perhaps one of the “wittiest” takeaways from last night’s event, which was widely used by everyone from mainstream media to memers, was that it was not a “debate” at all and more of a “debacle.” So how did the online world respond to everything after it concluded last night?
“never, im my 24 years of teaching, has a substitute left a note this bad” pic.twitter.com/nlFMsXaAA4
— hunter_hhhh (@hunter_hhhh) September 30, 2020
As for the memes, most of them appeared to center around moderator Chris Wallace and his struggle to maintain some form of civility between the two candidates, who exchanged several insults and interruptions over the course of the night. According to BBC, the longest topic of conversation revolved around the coronavirus pandemic at 20 minutes, with Trump speaking for 38 minutes total, Biden 43 minutes total and Trump interrupting his counterpart approximately 73 times.
Another commonly memed aspect of the night included suggestions on new moderators that users thought would handle things a little differently — mostly with people such as Joe Rogan, Samuel L. Jackson and Jerry Springer topping the lists and appearing in a slew of memes.
(2 of 2) The debates desperately need a new host:
Jerry!!! Jerry!!! Jerry!!! pic.twitter.com/yLiZLVCoUJ
— Kevin Ryder (@thekevinryder) September 30, 2020
Hot takes from a number of celebrities and influential individuals also hit social media in droves as everyone vied for the best summary of how awful the debate was. None other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, even weighed in with a particularly viral response.
That debate was the worst thing I’ve ever seen & I was in The Star Wars Holiday Special.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) September 30, 2020
Curiously, even some brands responded to the night’s events, such as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, who broke down the definition of Trump’s highly controversial “stand back and stand by” statement.
‘Stand back’: to take a few steps backwards
‘Stand by’: to be or to get ready to act #Debates2020
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) September 30, 2020
Pundits who covered the debate also had quite a lot to say immediately after it ended, collected in an article from Axios. CNN anchor Jake Tapper described it as “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck,” adding, “That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace.” In response, CNN reporter Dana Bash replied, “That was a shit show.”
MSNBC anchor Brian Williams said, “What a dark event we have just witnessed,” as the network returned to his studio for post-debate coverage. Fox News anchor Bret Baier responded to his colleague Martha MacCallum with, “You wonder if America may be lost on the substance of the heart of the issues and whether they really got to them over some of that back and forth.”
As for the candidates themselves, Trump tweeted out a plethora of responses, one of which said, “The American people want LAW & ORDER — Joe Biden won’t even say those words!” accumulating over 200,000 likes. Biden tweeted, “Donald Trump is the worst president we’ve ever had,” with over 1.4 million likes — quoted from Biden himself and tweeted during the debate.
this debate pic.twitter.com/jjYUNagilZ
— Hannah Jewell (@hcjewell) September 30, 2020
This morning, Wall Street, increasingly concerned with the uncertainty of the election’s outcome and its effect on markets, responded to the debate by dipping slightly last night but gaining back the losses throughout the day today.
So what about the rest of the world? How did other countries appear to respond to the debate? The Guardian described it as a “national humiliation,” while other papers in the UK said the event “was not a debate in any meaningful sense” and instead called it “an ill-tempered and at times incomprehensible squabble between two angry septuagenarians who palpably loathe each other.” The Times of India, their largest English newspaper, wrote, “The US embarrassed itself before the world for 100 minutes.”
French newspaper Libération stated it was “chaotic, childish, gruelling,” and German media outlet Der Spiegel headlined the debate as “A TV duel like a car accident.” Meanwhile, in Russia, pro-Kremlin NTV television said, “The rivals kept interrupting each other and instead of a balanced discussion they chose the path of mutual insults,” while the Chinese-state-run Global Times called it “the most chaotic presidential debate ever.”
TV ratings in the U.S. were also notably down according to THR. Compared to 2016’s first debate with 84.4 million viewers, this year’s only netted 67.4 million, which is down by about 11 percent. Interestingly, most network outlets saw a decrease across the board, while streaming services proved more popular.
— Cyranek (@Cyranek) September 30, 2020
No matter where you look for reactions to Tuesday night’s debate, save for the most die-hard followers of both candidates, it seems like the unanimous conclusion is that the first presidential debate of 2020 was nothing less than a clusterfuck. This afternoon, The Commission on Presidential Debates said it would be adding new “tools to maintain order” in the upcoming debates, but exactly what those are remains to be seen. It probably can’t get any worse … right?