Debate coach: Why this debate went terribly wrong

9/30/2020 5:30:00 PM

'This was the worst presidential debate in history,' Todd Graham writes for @CNNOpinion. 'Though moderator Chris Wallace, President Trump and Joe Biden were bad, they don't share equal responsibility. And they're not the only ones to blame.'

Opinions, Debate Coach: Why This Debate Went Terribly Wrong (Opinion) - Cnn

'This was the worst presidential debate in history,' Todd Graham writes for CNNOpinion. 'Though moderator Chris Wallace, President Trump and Joe Biden were bad, they don't share equal responsibility. And they're not the only ones to blame.'

That was the worst debate in the history of presidential debating. Nothing else comes close, writes Todd Graham. But though moderator Chris Wallace, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were bad, they don't share equal responsibility, he writes. And they're not the only ones to blame.

(CNN)That was the worst debate in the history of presidential debating. And I'm including primary debates. Nothing else comes close.Todd GrahamI decided to grade this debate on who was most responsible for the race to the bottom -- who was most responsible for failing the American public. Moderator Chris Wallace, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were bad, but they don't share equal responsibility. I'm a debate coach. I've watched many hundreds of terrible debates. I know where to cast blame. Let's begin -- in order of most egregious to least.FChris WallaceRead MoreI was, rightfully, it turned out, worried about the moderator. Unfortunately, Wallace decided to be invisible in his primary job here, as leader of a worthwhile debate. He was much stronger four years ago, when he was able to keep Trump within reason. Wallace's performance will be remembered for his not standing up to Trump and laying down the law early on, and then -- after it was too late -- shouting at the current President. Like a bad parent, he was absent when needed and overbearing when it was too late.The notion of facilitating an"open discussion" played right into hands of the biggest liar and interrupter on stage. Debates with Trump simply aren't like anything else. The idea behind being"invisible" is that a moderator shouldn't get in the way of a good debate. Wallace, by losing control of the candidates, caused the chaos.And when did Wallace think that allowing Trump to ask Biden questions, and then making Biden answer -- by failing to stop Trump and then at one point even prompting Biden to somehow answer Trump's question -- was a proper approach? It demonstrated an amazing lack of fairness, intended or not. FDonald TrumpThere are degrees of interruptions. Some are quick, short and annoying. Others are used as a defense against someone who just lied about you. Then there are long, off-topic, rambling and yell-at-your-television maddening interruptions. Trump's were this last kind. His torrent of bombastic babbling over both Biden and Wallace never let up. Plus, the number of falsehoods, questionable statements, claims without evidence and generally made-up junk simply put this President in a league of his own. (Here's an unlovely breakdown by CNN's fact-checkers.) CJoe BidenBiden needed to show more restraint in interrupting both Trump and Wallace. Sure, interrupting is required sometimes, like when a family member is attacked rhetorically. Unfortunately, Biden began the whole process of interrupting in this debate, drawing first blood. In doing so, and continuing throughout the debate, Biden might have turned off possible voters, who were left thinking that both candidates are insufferable.Still and all, Biden wasn't nearly as hideous in the quantity of rage-inducing transgressions. He doesn't share equal blame. Look at the series of primaries he just finished or the one-on-one debate against Bernie Sanders. Compare those debates with last night's debate. If you see a difference, then the fault can't be with Biden. Who won?And one more grade: an F, and F stands for Frank Fahrenkopf -- and the Commission on Presidential Debates, of which he is co-chair. Part of what debate coaches do is to teach people how to judge and moderate debates. Fahrenkopf's instructions on this, elucidated in this interview with CNN's Brian Stelter, run counter to anything I've ever taught or heard. The directions to the moderators he described ("if one of these candidates says something on the stage Tuesday, it's the role of the other person in the debate to be the one to raise that") led to the mess -- which could have been easily predicted by anyone with a functioning TV or computer screen who has watched our President on it over the past 3½ years.Wallace, Fahrenkopf pronounced, was just there as a"facilitator" meant to"get the candidates to debate, talk to each other about their positions." In the real world of debating, that's an open invitation to whoever wants to disrupt the debate the most. With his light touch on the rules rudder, Fahrenkopf (and his commission) are at least partly to blame for putting us through this rocky ride. Could you understand what was going on? I doubt it. If you missed the debate and try to read the transcript, the only word you'll find consistently is"crosstalk."Final thoughts:I have no idea who won this debate. But I do know we're all worse off because of it. There are too many life-changing issues for Americans that ought to have been discussed (like, for example, a substantive exploration of the purported topics of this debate, which fell away or got systematically scrambled in the cacophony of chatter the President directed at his frustrated adversary).Get our free weekly newsletterSign up for CNN Opinion's new newsletter.

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Opinion Hoax Opinion I disagree with Biden’s grade. To me I would give him a D. The other two I agree F’s. Biden and Trump prove what fools they are and help me make up my mind that next Tuesday in my my state’s early vote, to vote for Jorgensen. Opinion The next president after either one of these two will need a mighty big broom to clean up this mess America is in .

Opinion What was Biden supposed to do he held his ground against a bully who wouldn’t play by the rules. Had trump did so I sure Biden could have explained his policies. This is not Biden’s first rodeo, check his past debates. Opinion And the next one will be better if a CNN anchor is the moderator? Right!

Opinion MAGA 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Opinion Wallace lets Biden interrupt the President at will, scolds the President while Biden lies. The President can’t defend himself with Wallace moderating. It’s Trump vs Biden and Wallace. Opinion Joe Biden did just what I wanted him to do. He acted like a President ! !--------even if he was dealing with a 6 yr. old ! !

Opinion That is men that seem like mexicans on the street corner that has a differant view of another side of the rest home .. Opinion That was bad. I would like a rematch tonight and every night until Nov 3 Opinion Who ya got 2-5 worst?

Post-debate CNN poll: Six in 10 say Biden won the debateSix in 10 debate watchers said former Vice President Joe Biden did the best job in Tuesday's debate, and just 28% say President Donald Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS. The WEST COAST is burning as Predicted so part TWO of that prediction must be getting close Truck Bombs parked on East Coast Major Cities like 2/26/1993, & 4/19/1995 Rail Roads & Subway/Transit attacks like over seas

Opinion This is . Opinion Opinion I blame white cops Opinion Joe looked old, grumpy, sick, weak, frail, glitchy and senile. I thought he was supposed to be more ‘presidential’.. Opinion The Trump plan is, in case you didn't know , is for Trump to introduce chaos into the Presidential debates, just like he's introducing chaos into the process of voting. There's nothing a moderator can do, other than turn off the mics, and tell everyone to go home.

Trump-Biden debate: How to watch the first presidential debate | The 19thThe first of three presidential Debates2020 between Joe Biden and Donald Trump will take place tonight at 9pm EST.

Why we should get rid of debate audiences'Audiences either don't help or actively hurt debates. Covid-19 has already forced a lot of negative changes on the world of politics. Why don't we let the virus create a positive change and gets rid of debate audiences forever?' writes CillizzaCNN CillizzaCNN Biden is scared!!! CillizzaCNN Whether it's the election, racial injustice, and/or handling of COVID, Americans are full of angst. Posting disparaging words, dragging each other down, will lead nowhere. We're in need of some soul-searching. Insults won't persuade. Intelligence, respect, & love, however, do. CillizzaCNN A man who refused to Serve, who pays no taxes that helps pay salaries of our Troops, who called those who died on duty “suckers and losers”, how in the world is this man President and Commander in Chief? Where did we go wrong?

Why Is Fox News Hosting The First Presidential Debate?Fox News’ Chris Wallace is moderating tonight's Debates2020. The network often acts as an arm of the Trump campaign. It's questionable that it's being given the role of impartial referee. And yet he's already complaining that Biden was given an unfair advantage 🙄 NBC is a wing of the Democrats. They host a debate. Chris Wallace has always struck me as a straight shooter and journalism purist - think we are good!

Why Last Night’s Debate Is Already Considered The Worst In Presidential HistoryHere’s what leading commentators and newspapers are saying about Tuesday’s controversial 90-minute showdown. Because it was. Reason: A deranged democrat thug who's been swindling the country for 47 YEARS should not be debating a DOER who got so much done in 47 MONTHS. But did anyone really expect it not to be? To be honest with yah, last night went exactly as I pictured it would go.

Why, Comic Con, Why?Los Angeles Comic Con is happening in-person this December, for some reason Guess they're voting Trump, too.

Todd Graham is the director of debate at Southern Illinois University.(CNN) View 2020 presidential election pollingIn interviews with the same voters conducted before the debate, 56% said they expected Biden to do the better job while 43% expected that Trump would.Race and violence in our cities  The integrity of the election Wallace will open each segment with a question and then Trump and Biden will each have two minutes to respond.(CNN) That's 70 too many.

His debate teams have won five national championships, and he has been recognized three times as the national debate coach of the year. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. In that poll, 62% thought Clinton won the debate, 27% said Trump did. The views expressed in this commentary belong solely to the author.  On Sunday, September 27, The New York Times published a deep-dive investigation into Trump’s tax records extending more than two decades. View more opinion at CNN. Overall, 69% called Biden's attacks on Trump fair while just 32% said Trump's attacks were fair. (CNN)That was the worst debate in the history of presidential debating. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, we had a Democratic presidential primary debate between Biden and Vermont Sen.

And I'm including primary debates. The voters who watched the debate were more partisan than Americans as a whole -- 36% identified as independents or non-partisans compared with around 40% in the general public, and the group of debate watchers was more Democratic than a typical survey of all adults, with 39% identifying as Democrats and 25% as Republicans.  “I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night,” . Nothing else comes close. Todd GrahamI decided to grade this debate on who was most responsible for the race to the bottom -- who was most responsible for failing the American public. On the economy, though, voters who watched the debate split, with 50% saying they preferred Biden and 48% Trump. Moderator Chris Wallace, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were bad, but they don't share equal responsibility. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???” When asked to respond at a news conference, Biden laughed and. I'm a debate coach.The debate did not appear to dramatically move voters who watched in either vote preferences or their overall impressions of the two candidates. Here's The New York Times' Michael Grynbaum:Read More"With no live audience on hand because of coronavirus concerns, there were no jeers or cheers disrupting the proceedings, no playing to the crowd by the two men onstage.

I've watched many hundreds of terrible debates. I know where to cast blame. Biden was, however, viewed as having better addressed concerns about his candidacy (59% Biden to 37% Trump). Let's begin -- in order of most egregious to least.FChris WallaceRead MoreI was, rightfully, it turned out, worried about the moderator.The CNN post-debate poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone and includes interviews with 568 registered voters who watched the September 29 debate. Unfortunately, Wallace decided to be invisible in his primary job here, as leader of a worthwhile debate.duval-3{width:100%;position: relative; border: 1px solid #979797; border-left: none; border-right: none;padding: 20px 0; box-sizing: border-box; -webkit-box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0 0 20px 0; max-width: 660px;} .

He was much stronger four years ago, when he was able to keep Trump within reason.3 percentage points. Wallace's performance will be remembered for his not standing up to Trump and laying down the law early on, and then -- after it was too late -- shouting at the current President. Like a bad parent, he was absent when needed and overbearing when it was too late. Respondents initially reached online are members of the SSRS Opinion Panel, a nationally representative probability-based panel.The notion of facilitating an"open discussion" played right into hands of the biggest liar and interrupter on stage. Debates with Trump simply aren't like anything else..0666667rem;width: 80%; padding-top: 0px; padding-left: 2%;} .

The idea behind being"invisible" is that a moderator shouldn't get in the way of a good debate. Wallace, by losing control of the candidates, caused the chaos.And when did Wallace think that allowing Trump to ask Biden questions, and then making Biden answer -- by failing to stop Trump and then at one point even prompting Biden to somehow answer Trump's question -- was a proper approach? It demonstrated an amazing lack of fairness, intended or not. FDonald TrumpThere are degrees of interruptions. Some are quick, short and annoying. Click to subscribe! As you might guess, that strategic focus does not, um, reward a thoughtful conversation on the issues of the day.

Others are used as a defense against someone who just lied about you. Then there are long, off-topic, rambling and yell-at-your-television maddening interruptions. Trump's were this last kind. His torrent of bombastic babbling over both Biden and Wallace never let up. Plus, the number of falsehoods, questionable statements, claims without evidence and generally made-up junk simply put this President in a league of his own. What's the point?Then there's this: Let's say coronavirus didn't exist and the auditorium at Case Western could be filled to capacity.

(Here's an unlovely breakdown by CNN's fact-checkers.) CJoe BidenBiden needed to show more restraint in interrupting both Trump and Wallace. Sure, interrupting is required sometimes, like when a family member is attacked rhetorically. Unfortunately, Biden began the whole process of interrupting in this debate, drawing first blood. In doing so, and continuing throughout the debate, Biden might have turned off possible voters, who were left thinking that both candidates are insufferable. Covid-19 has already forced a lot of negative changes on the world of politics.

Still and all, Biden wasn't nearly as hideous in the quantity of rage-inducing transgressions. He doesn't share equal blame. Look at the series of primaries he just finished or the one-on-one debate against Bernie Sanders. Compare those debates with last night's debate. If you see a difference, then the fault can't be with Biden.

Who won?And one more grade: an F, and F stands for Frank Fahrenkopf -- and the Commission on Presidential Debates, of which he is co-chair. Part of what debate coaches do is to teach people how to judge and moderate debates. Fahrenkopf's instructions on this, elucidated in this interview with CNN's Brian Stelter, run counter to anything I've ever taught or heard. The directions to the moderators he described ("if one of these candidates says something on the stage Tuesday, it's the role of the other person in the debate to be the one to raise that") led to the mess -- which could have been easily predicted by anyone with a functioning TV or computer screen who has watched our President on it over the past 3½ years.Wallace, Fahrenkopf pronounced, was just there as a"facilitator" meant to"get the candidates to debate, talk to each other about their positions.

" In the real world of debating, that's an open invitation to whoever wants to disrupt the debate the most. With his light touch on the rules rudder, Fahrenkopf (and his commission) are at least partly to blame for putting us through this rocky ride. Could you understand what was going on? I doubt it. If you missed the debate and try to read the transcript, the only word you'll find consistently is"crosstalk."Final thoughts:I have no idea who won this debate.

But I do know we're all worse off because of it. There are too many life-changing issues for Americans that ought to have been discussed (like, for example, a substantive exploration of the purported topics of this debate, which fell away or got systematically scrambled in the cacophony of chatter the President directed at his frustrated adversary).Get our free weekly newsletterSign up for CNN Opinion's new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook It's a shame none of that conversation happened. The election of the United States president is serious business.

It was not treated that way last night. There were no winners in that nonsense. Only losers. Us. We learned nothing new.

Finally, please don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Debates have been around for thousands of years, and just because we have one candidate (Trump) who won't even come close to playing by the rules, that doesn't mean presidential debates aren't still valuable. Like most things, they have to survive this presidency. .