CNN organized a debate without facts. The losers are US voters

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump reacts during the CNN presidential debate at CNN Studios on June 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. Former President Trump and US President Joe Biden will face off in the first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Well, it was terrible.

I think I speak for the millions of citizens who would prefer not to live under the rule of a deranged dictator when I say that watching the first presidential debate was a painful experience.

Biden lived up to the caricature of a coward who lacked vigor and acuity, speaking weakly, coughing, mixing up names and delivering answers that devolved into a garbled word salad. At one point, he inexplicably abandoned what should have been his strongest theme (reversing abortion rights) to dwell on immigrant crimes — serving red meat to Trump, who happily pounced on his favorite false narrative that Biden had facilitated a massive influx of violent criminals flooding the southern border.

Los Angeles-based humorist Drew Janda summed it up well X:

“Biden: Look, the fact is that we can’t… no… watch. Here’s the deal. And this is no nonsense.

Trump: Ten billion Guatemalans are attacking the Lincoln Memorial right now.

Trump lied fluently. Politifact’s Living Fact Checkers took it to the next level, trying to keep up with all the lies he was spewing.

But the absolute worst performance of the night came from CNN hosts Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, who completely outplayed Trump to all these lunatics.

When Trump claimed that “any reasonable presenter” had debunked the story that the riots in Charlottesville were instigated by violent white supremacists, presenter Jake Tapper simply said, “Thank you, President Trump,” and moved on.

The moderators gave the same response when Trump said the federal government was behind his criminal convictions in a New York bribery trial — a state-level criminal proceeding in state court that had nothing to do with the Biden administration or federal prosecutors.

They responded the same way to Trump’s ridiculous claim that “everyone wanted” Wade v. Wade overturned and that before it was overturned, Democrats allowed abortions “after birth.”

Trump has also repeatedly lied about sanctioning the January 6 attack on the Capitol, claiming he had nothing to do with it and that he tried to send 10,000 National Guard troops to protect the Capitol. He has said that the violence committed by his supporters is solely the fault of Nancy Pelosi because she refused his offer of support, something he added she admitted to in the documentary.

As fact checkers at Politifact explainedis a lie that Trump has repeated many times: “It remains FALSEHOOD. In the compact video, Pelosi said, “I take responsibility for not just telling them to prepare for more,” referring to the security of the U.S. Capitol, not the National Guard. No member of Congress has the authority to activate the District of Columbia National Guard. Only the president, secretary of defense and secretary of the U.S. army have such authority. Records show that Pelosi approved a Jan. 6, 2021, request for National Guard support and pushed to deliver National Guard troops to the U.S. Capitol when their deployment was delayed for several hours that day.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of Trump’s uninterrupted 90 minutes of lies about economy (which was far from the “greatest in history” under the Trump administration — wages and GDP fell), number of jobs (which have improved significantly under Biden), augment in the number of border crossings (which started under Trump, not Biden), crime (which dropped, not increased, under Biden), and “pants on fire” claim that “millions of immigrants” have entered the United States illegally from “prisons, jails, asylums, and mental institutions.” Giving Trump a platform to spread hate and lies and failing to exercise any control over them was a gross dereliction of journalistic duty on CNN’s part.

While the debate unsettled Democrats and progressives who watched as the glossy and spirited Trump seemed to bully the haggard-looking Biden, that impression was made much, much worse by a newsroom that allowed Trump to lie and get away with it.

Biden got some good jabs. “I’ve never heard a president talk like that before,” he said, pointing out how Trump has disparaged American veterans, called the U.S. a failing country and promised to employ the power of the federal government to go after his political enemies.

Biden spoke honestly, if quietly. But holding candidates accountable should be up to moderators.

If the press can’t do this now, when a convicted felon is running for president, it will soon be too tardy.

Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. The Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. For questions, contact Editor Ruth Conniff: Follow the Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook AND X.

There was a factless debate in the CNN post. The losers are U.S. voters who first appeared on the Pennsylvania Capital-Star program.

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