So that debate was… something

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President Joe Biden got off to slow start in tonight’s debate, suffering from some kind of laryngitis and seemingly initially unsure of how to hit Donald Trump. But debates aren’t decided by their totality. They’re decided by the handful of moments that end up going viral. As the debate went on, Biden seemingly managed to make a few of those moments happen.

At one point Biden managed to get under Trump’s skin by bringing up the fact that Trump called fallen U.S. soldiers “suckers and losers.” Trump took the bait and made the quote the focus of the debate for a few key minutes, thus putting the story back in the minds of the public.

At another point Trump inexplicably claimed that “everybody” wanted Roe v. Wade overturned. This is a moment that Biden and the Democrats will use against Trump in TV ads for months to come.

But this was an ugly, messy crapfest of a debate – and the fault for that lies with the people who were running it. Trump told literally hundreds of lies during this debate (and it’s still not over as I’m writing this), and at no point did the moderators push back against a single one of them. Trump falsely claimed that Democrats want abortions performed after babies are born, and the moderators did nothing. Trump falsely claimed that Nancy Pelosi confessed to being at fault for January 6th, and the moderators did nothing. The debate was halfway over and the moderators still hadn’t brought up the fact that one of the two candidates is a recently convicted felon awaiting trial.

Biden won this ugly embarrassment of a debate, but the media will probably label it a tie. It won’t end up having much impact on the election one way or the other. Biden has been pulling slightly ahead in the polls over the past month, and that trend will likely continue. But the real losers of this debate are Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, who did one of the worst moderating jobs in history, and CNN, which is more of a “both sides” dumpster fire than ever.

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