The meeting had to comply with strict guidelines accepted by both teams. But everything ended in a riot.
They all broke. Each of the rules that had been accepted, rigorously agreed upon and in advance on what the first presidential debate Tuesday night between Donald Trump and Joe Biden crashed into a wall. One by one, they trampled each other until the meeting became a mess.
The person in charge of moderating the American “Superbowl of politics” was the host of the Fox network. Chris Wallace, famous for being a relentless interrogator. A “sniper” of journalism.
Originally planned at the University of Notre Dame, which later took a step backwards due to the pandemic, the first debate was held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
The rules were clear and few. Easy (in theory). And they were accepted by the teams of the two candidates. None of them knew what questions they would have to answer.
The rules were:
Nothing worked. And in large part, because of Trump’s capricious interruptions.
At times Wallace could barely finish asking his questions. To both candidates, the journalist repeatedly asked “let me finish asking the question.” Biden was silent before the order with a gesture of “sorry, go ahead”, in front of a Trump who continued with his uncontrolled tirade, in what ended up being a debate in itself entre Trump y Wallace.
Bored of debating with someone who wouldn’t let him talk, Biden opted to look at the camera and talk to people.
For Wallace, the “sniper” of journalism, the debate literally got out of hand. He could not impose order. At times, they all spoke to the same person. And the two minutes scheduled with religious order they flew through the air.
On very few occasions, a candidate was able to respond within those two exclusive minutes. The chicanes and low comments were the echo of what the opponent was saying.
Biden even said “Putin’s puppy” and “clown” to Trump, something unthinkable in the United States years ago about the figure of the nation’s president, an institution in the northern country.
“Everybody knows” that Trump “is a liar,” he also told her.
Trump treated Biden as unwise. And to be a disaster.
Decorum, an unspoken rule, also disintegrated.
The order of the rules was overcome by lack of control and insults. It was not a debate. There were no ideas debated. If not, a permanent cross of insults that the moderator could not control.
Even the topics that had to be debated for 15 minutes slipped through the fingers of the moderator, who when seeing that the topic to be debated was going through the branches, quickly went to the next item.