Other Than That, Mrs. Biden, How Was The Debate?

On the bright side, Joe Biden disproved the right-wing conspiracy theory rumor mill that he would be hopped up on drugs.

But as "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart summed up, "Let me just say after watching tonight's debate, both of these men should be using performance-enhancing drugs. As much of it as they can get, as many times a day as their bodies will allow."

Aside from providing material for what might be Stewart's best show yet this season (see below), the performance of the two candidates was little more than fodder for late night punchlines, MAGA glee and free world angst, as the real-time post analysis wasn't just that Biden stumbled as Trump bumbled lie after lie after lie, with zero fact-checking, but at least that was expected.

In terms of performative pugilistic points, Donald Trump won by simply being his normal Trumpy self (who are you going to believe, me or your own lying eyes and ears?). And no matter what the spin room says, Biden lost us the minute he opened his mouth and said, "It's great to be here, thank you."



If no other reason, but his voice -- which his campaign team attributed to a cold -- but also his stumbles, botched rebuttals, and in many responses, what appeared to be cognitive fritzing. Like the his meandering digressive -- long pause -- final answer to a simple question about the pandemic: "We beat Medicare."

Ever since the first Kennedy - Nixon televised debate, America has known that these TV shows are about style, not substance.

Because if it was about substantive performance, Trump would have contributed to his own self-inflicted TKO, spewing his own jumble of lies, misinformation and mashups of reality, not to mention his failure to answer simple questions, especially whether he would accept the results of the next election.

Overall, Trump's performance was a blend of his American carnage speech, a prototypical MAGA rally, and one of his WWE wrestling stunts.

In a normal post-debate analysis, his "I never had sex with a porn star" would have been the hot take. Though personally, I don't know how any commentators so far haven't referenced his use of the whistle-blowing moniker Brandon he used to refer to Biden at one point.

Yes, Biden lost the first presidential debate bout -- the "Rumble in the Bumble" -- and who knows if there will actually be a round two. Democratic pundits already were grousing about "panic," a call for a new candidate, an "open convention," etc.

But if you ask me who the biggest loser was, it was CNN.

Understanding that hosting a modern day presidential debate -- especially one involving Trump -- is an unenviable task, CNN promoted the hell out of it, including the case that it had established rock-solid ground rules that would surely keep it "presidential."

The moderators failed to fact check any of Trump's incessant lies in real-time, although the network eventually telecast a round-up of Trump's lies, a little too late for most American viewers.

As for one of the oddest parts of the CNN format -- the two, two-minute commercial breaks -- I believe "The Daily Show's" Stewart also characterized its function best, and most honestly.

"An ad break to watch a Hulu show is three minutes," Stewart quipped, "What can you do in two minutes?"

For me, it was getting another drink.

10 comments about "Other Than That, Mrs. Biden, How Was The Debate?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 28, 2024 at 9:49 a.m.

    Joe, I'm no fan of Trump, but when he lies or makes misleading statements in a debate like this I feel that it's the opponent's duty to call him effectively  on it--not the moderator. The "debate" was between Biden and Trump, not Trump and CNN. Some of the most fanatical Dems may argue that Trump lied all over the place and they may be right---- but it's the "optics"that destroyed Biden, not the facts. He is clearly not in command of anything and needs to be replaced---or we will see a Trump landslide victory in November.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc. replied, June 28, 2024 at 10:03 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: Agree 100% that it's about optics and that it was up to Biden to rebut. Disagree that it's not up to journalists to fact-check lies and misinformation.

  3. Barbara Lippert from, June 28, 2024 at 10:19 a.m.

    "cognitive fritzing" -- great, Joe.  It was like watching a sleepwalker. Deeply upsetting. I don't think he'll step down, so I hope he comes back.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 28, 2024 at 10:38 a.m.

    Joe, I didn't say that jouralists shouldn't fact check Trump or anyone else. My point was that in a debate of this importance, it's not the job of the moderator to step in and do what the opponent should do, namely challenge the "liar". That was Biden's role--and he fumbled it, as well as the whole debate---badly---probably because he is no longer capable of taking part in such debates or, I suspect, acting as POTUS. It might have been better if his wife stood next to him and fielded the tough questions while he smiled  and nodded agreement. At least that would have been a debate.

  5. Mark Sutton from NHR, June 28, 2024 at 11:42 a.m.

    But should we trust the journalists to fact check lies and misinformation?

    Their behavior concerning Hunter Biden's laptop and falsely claiming it was disinformation; and now months/years of dismissing Biden's cognitive issues as a conspiracy pretty much shows that journalists nowadays can't be trusted to convey the truth.

    And one of the worst aspects are that journalists won't apologize for their behavior and gaslighting.

  6. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, June 28, 2024 at 3:05 p.m.

    @Joe Mandese

    Fact checking goes both ways.  Let's not pretend that Biden didn't have several whoppers of his own.

    Trump was also able to refute some of Biden's claims - whether you agree with him or not - he figured out how to actually debate in this format that Biden's team set the rules for. Biden didn't try to debate at all.

    While most right wing pundits were positioning Tapper and Bash as additional debaters for Biden, they were consistent and impartial and did an excellent job cutting off both candidates when necessary.

    People were able to see with their own eyes what the future may hold with either of these men in the Oval - please don't pretend that the moderators blew it for Biden.

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 28, 2024 at 3:27 p.m.

    Mark, there are journalists and then there are people who call themselves "journalists" but are really partisans of one ideology or another. One way to tell them apart is by fact checking them as well as those they supposedly check on. Some are very consistent in terms of being open minded and fair in their reporting, giving opposing voices a hearing,  etc.---others are not. But to assume that all journalists--self styled or actual---can't be trusted leaves us with nothing.

    There is a tendency in recent years to label all of the news media as dishonest and this has spread to the courts, election officials,juries,  lawyers, prosecutors and DA's as well as "journalists".  if these allegations are really true, then we are in a heap of trouble. Who's left that we can trust---the politicians?

  8. Ben B from Retired replied, June 28, 2024 at 11:06 p.m.

    I agree Ed it is up to the candidates to call out the lies rather than the moderators. Seeing the highlights as I didn't watch the debate Joe didn't do well at all in the debate and shouldn't be running for a second term in my opinion. It isn't going to happen to Dems aren't going to change the candidate for president as Joe will remain on the ticket.

  9. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, June 29, 2024 at 5:27 a.m.

    Trump's customary blowhard lies pale in comparison to Joe Biden's blood lies. 

    As a member of a military family, I was deeply offended by Joe Biden's shameful lie when he claimed no American service members have died on his watch. 

    Thirteen Americans were killed during the Biden administration's sudden, sloppy & incompetent Afghanistan withdrawal, a disaster that deserved far more attention at the debate. Acting as if these brave men and women who sacrificed all for their country do not exist trivializes their sacrifice. Add to that all the Americans who were abandoned in Afghanistan and tortured to death by the Taliban, which the American media has barely addressed. There were also two Navy SEALs who died in Yemen during the current administration.

    There is blood on Biden's hands, and he knows it. When Trump called out Biden on his blood lie, shortly after 29:30 in the CNN debate, Biden reflexively looked down in shame. Synchronistically, a shadow immediately passes in front of him (perhaps the shadow of death?), before CNN cuts away. All Mediapost readers can see for themselves, right here:

    Biden also lied during the debate about the Border Patrol Union endorsing him. While the debate was still going on, the Border Patrol Union tweeted: "To be clear, we never have and never will endorse Biden." [] As even Biden himself acknowledged during the debate, his border failure has led to the rapes and murders of American citizens. Again, blood on his hands.

    As for the drugs, Biden's undilated blue eyes show that, for some reason, he was not given his usual stimulants before the debate. When he's been drugged, his pupils enlarge dramatically and his eyes turn black, as we've seen at multiple events in the past. In combination with the unprecedented June debate date (no prior presidential debate has been held before September), it very much appears Biden was set up to fail, in order to proceed towards a last-minute replacement. The jockeying among Gavin Newsom, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris and Big Michelle Obama will be riveting entertainment in Chicago, as well as fodder for a week of hilarious memes. No future historian will ever be able to complain the Fall of the American Empire was dull. 

    There remains one very big question looming after Thursday as well, of course: Joe Biden, there can no longer be any doubt, is not running the country. So who is? It's quite odd no so-called "journalists" even raise the question, a silence which should be a story in and of itself. But who would write it? 

  10. Nancy Travers from The Travers Group replied, June 30, 2024 at 5:48 p.m.

    Agreed - it was Biden's responsibilty to counter Trump's garbage. The format was chosen by the Biden team.

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