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The first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden in Cleveland on Tuesday night was a shouting match, punctuated by interruptions and hallmarked by name-calling.

Why it matters: If Trump aimed to make the debate as chaotic as possible with a torrent of disruptions, he succeeded. Pundits struggled to make sense of what they saw, and it's tough to imagine that the American people were able to either.

What they're saying: The prevailing sentiment on cable news seemed to be that it was "a s--t show," as described by CNN reporter Dana Bash.

  • "What a dark event we have just witnessed," MSNBC anchor Brian Williams said as his network returned to the studio post-debate. "A tip of the hat to Cormac McCarthy when we say 'If that wasn't a mess, it will do until the mess gets here.'"

"That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck," CNN anchor Jake Tapper said in response to Tuesday's event. "That was the worst debate I have ever seen. It wasn't even a debate. It was a disgrace." 

  • "And it's primarily because of President Trump, who spent the entire time interrupting, not abiding by the rules he agreed to. Lying. Maliciously attacking the son of the vice president. When asked to condemn white supremacists, he brought up the name of a neofascist far-right group and said 'stand back and standby.'" 
  • "We'll talk about who won the debate and who lost. One thing for sure, the American people lost tonight. That was horrific."
  • "I'm going to say it like it is," said CNN reporter Dana Bash, responding to her colleague. "That was a s--t show. We're on cable. We can say that. Apologies for being maybe a little bit crude." 
  • "But that is really the phrase I'm getting from people on both sides of the aisle on texts, and the only phrase I can think of to really describe it."

"[Y]ou wonder if America maybe lost on the substance of the heart of the issues and whether they really got to them over some of that back and forth," said Fox News anchor Bret Baier to his colleague Martha MacCallum.

  • "It was a tumultuous back-and-forth, no holds barred. They both dove in really hard, and I think obviously, there was a ton of talking over each other," MacCallum responded.
  • "I do feel like we've been through something," Baier said. "You at home maybe feel it too."

Go deeper: The first Trump v. Biden presidential debate was a hot mess

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Key takeaways from the "60 Minutes" interviews with Trump and Biden

Combination image of President Trump and Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 29. Photo: Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

CBS' "60 Minutes" aired its interviews with President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Sunday evening, as the 2020 election rivals offered starkly different visions for the U.S.

The big picture: The show opened with Trump's interview with CBS' Lesley Stahl — which she noted "began politely, but ended regrettably, contentiously" after the president abruptly ended it, before moving on to Vice President Mike Pence, and then Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.