Final Biden-Trump Debate an Improvement Due to Better Moderation
NBC News’ Kristen Welker aptly moderated the final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Thursday evening.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.
The second and final presidential debate between President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday was a stark contrast to the duo’s disastrous first debate in September.
The primary reason for this was that there were significantly less interruptions throughout the roughly 90-minute Thursday evening event, which was aptly moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Each candidate was given ample time to answer questions and respond to accusations from his opponent. Welker supplied both candidates with tough questions on their records and didn’t hesitate to follow-up or repeat questions when Biden or Trump failed to provide sufficient answers. Thursday’s event actually resembled a typical presidential debate from prior election seasons.
That’s not necessarily high praise, but after the thoroughly embarrassing affair that was the first Biden-Trump bout several weeks ago, expectations for Thursday’s event were rock bottom. Indeed, many of the issues that have plagued the 2020 election season, from the promotion of various conspiracy theories to incessant finger-pointing — Biden and Trump wasted too much time on arguing about which candidate was more paid off by foreign governments — and bizarre tangents — Trump claimed that only undocumented immigrants “with the lowest IQ” show up for their immigration court hearings and also expressed concern that windmills were killing all of the birds — were front and center during Thursday’s debate. That said, most of the night’s topics were covered in sufficient detail, each candidate was given time to present their ideas to the audience, and Biden and Trump responded to one another without the event devolving into mind-numbing noise. If nothing else, at least voters got at least one 2020 presidential debate that did the thing it was supposed to do.
Welker deserves ample praise for moderating the event. Unlike Chris Wallace, the Fox News Sunday anchor who failed to rein in either candidate while moderating the first presidential debate, Welker did an admirable job of keeping Biden and Trump on track and ensuring that appropriate time was dedicated for both debate’s prearranged questions and various follow-ups. She stepped aside when there was reason to let Biden and Trump cross-talk, but rarely hesitated to interject when the discussion got too off-course. Welker also deserves commendation for asking each candidate difficult, personalized questions about their record, particularly with regards to race in America and Mexico border policies.
Aside from the change in moderation, Thursday’s event also differed from the first Biden-Trump debate due to a new rule that a candidate’s mic would be cut during their opponents initial two minute answer for each topic — a direct response to the incessant interruptions that derailed the September debate. Contrary to some speculation, there were no plans to cut the mics outside of those specific two-minute segments. Pundits will offer their takes in the coming days about whether the new mic rule, shifting poll numbers, or whatever else incentivized Trump and Biden to not interrupt one another on Thursday, but regardless, the change appeared to have a positive effect and it’d be wise for the Commission on Presidential Debates to keep the mic rule intact for future elections, no matter the presidential candidates.
The second and final presidential debate between Biden and Trump can be viewed below:
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Weekly Ketchup: Matt Damon Will Be Bourne Again in 2016
This Week’s Top Story
MATT DAMON TO BE BOURNE AGAIN IN 2016
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 DID THE INTERNET SAVE DEADPOOL?
#2 THIS WEEK IN TOM HIDDLESTON: SKULL ISLAND, AND ANOTHER HANK WILLIAMS MOVIE?
#3 BOARDWALK EMPIRE STAR JACK HUSTON TO STAR IN THE BEN-HUR REMAKE
#4 ANGELINA JOLIE TO TACKLE IVORY POACHING WITH EPIC AFRICA
#5 COMEDIAN SETH ROGEN TO STAR IN UNTITLED SETH ROGEN COMEDY
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 DOCTOR WHO STAR MATT SMITH JOINS PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
#3 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY NOT RETURNING FOR MAGIC MIKE XXL
This week, we learned of two new actresses joining the cast of Magic Mike XXL, but they were sort of overshadowed by word of who won’t be returning for the sequel. Namely, we’re talking about Matthew McConaughey (although Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello will return to reprise their stripper roles). The two actresses who will be joining in on the fun are Jada Pinkett Smith (as the owner of a strip club), and Andie MacDowell, who starred in sex, lies, and videotape, the first movie directed by Steven Soderbergh (who directed the first Magic Mike). The sequel will be directed by Greg Jacobs (Louder Than a Bomb). This story is a “Rotten Idea” because of Matthew McConaughey’s (and Steven Soderbergh’s) absence.
#2 DC COMICS’ SUICIDE SQUAD GETTING CLOSER
#1 I KNOW WHAT 1990S MOVIE YOU’RE REMAKING NEXT SUMMER
As much as writers (like this one) might bemoan the waves of remakes, reboots, and retreads, it’s something Hollywood has been doing since (20 years) before someone at MGM got the idea for a color musical version of The Wizard of Oz. Something that you notice, however, when you write about these projects week after week is that the average dates for the original movies (somewhat logically) gradually creep forward with the passing of time. Every movie from the 1980s is already optioned? Great, move on to the 1990s. And there really were few movies with casts as definitely “nineties” as 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, Ryan Phillippe, Johnny Galecki, and Anne Heche all appeared in the slasher movie (the success of which also inspired a sequel). Producer Neal Moritz has hired Oculus writer/director Mike Flanagan to start work on the remake, which, like the first film, will be adapted from the 1973 novel by Lois Duncan. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas not because of Flanagan’s credits, but because, sometimes, an idea is just “rotten” on its own merits (i.e. enough with the horror movie remakes). Hardly anyone ever remakes pirate movies. How about trying that for a while?
Wall Street Journal Opinion and News Side Divided on Hunter Biden
The Wall Street Journal opinion page spent much of Thursday talking up a fresh allegation involving Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and the son’s alleged business dealings in China.
“Joe Biden has a problem, and his name is Hunter,” wrote Kimberley Strassel, a member of the paper’s editorial board. James Freeman, assistant editor of the editorial page, wrote his own column on the subject, asking “How long can the media blackout continue?”
But on Thursday evening, Journal news reporters Andrew Duehren and James T. Areddy published a more skeptical take. The news article reported on the allegations of Anthony Bobulinski, who claims that Joe Biden was involved in a meeting regarding his son’s Chinese business venture.
But the story also reported that no deal ever came together and that, “Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden.” The Journal also quoted another partner in the venture, James Gilliar, saying he was “unaware of any involvement at anytime of the former Vice President.”
The conflicting versions — the opinion columns hyping the story and the news pages playing it down — comes amid ongoing tension between the two sides of the paper.
In July, more than 280 Journal and Dow Jones staffers signed on to a letter to the publisher attacking the opinion pages’ “lack of fact-checking and transparency, and its apparent disregard for evidence.” They faulted the opinion page for running an editorial from Vice President Mike Pence, claiming there was no second wave of the coronavirus. They argued that the opinion page was hurting the paper’s brand, and called for a clearer separation between the two departments.
In response, the editorial board vowed not to bow to “cancel culture pressure” from the Journal newsroom.
“Our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media,” the board wrote.
The Bobulinski story was first reported by another Rupert Murdoch-owned property, the New York Post. That story, by Post opinion writer Michael Goodwin, touted Bobulinski’s “dynamite assertion” as “believable because it aligns with earlier information we know to be true.”
The Trump campaign has also touted Bobulinski’s claims, holding a news conference to promote his allegation and inviting him to Thursday’s debate in Nashville, Tenn.
The competing takes at the Journal was catnip for media Twitter, which lives for newsroom drama.
WHOA. Wall Street Journal’s news side just released a debunking of WSJ opinion side. https://t.co/6HnehUtMHR
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman)
There has frequently been little love lost between the WSJ news and opinion pages. But tonight’s dueling stories are a real embarrassment to the latter, and a great short course on the difference between reporting and stenography.
— Richard Tofel (@dicktofel)
Torn on whether the fact that WSJ’s news side (which does outstanding work) and opinion side (which routinely ignores it) appear to inhabit totally different planets is a laudable sign of journalistic independence or just a bizarre source of whiplash for readers.
— Brad Heath (@bradheath)
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza)
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