In these polarized political times, it can sometimes feel as if Americans really cannot agree on anything.
But Tuesday’s highly anticipated presidential debate, the first between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, managed to achieve rare bipartisan consensus: Just about everyone offering commentary online agreed that the debate was an unmitigated disaster.
The night’s 90-minute, commercial-free cross-talk extravaganza may not be something viewers will particularly want to review in detail upon waking up Wednesday morning. But as one political journalist suggested, Tuesday’s event very well might “go down as the worst debate of all time.”
So, for posterity, here is a look at a few of the ways the internet processed the yelling, the interrupting and the very occasional debating — all as it was simultaneously melting down.
So. Much. Yelling.
During the first five minutes, the moderator, Chris Wallace, asked a question. Mr. Trump answered, and Mr. Biden responded after that.
And then Mr. Biden interrupted Mr. Trump during a discussion about the Supreme Court, and, well — that was the end of structure and civility. Mr. Trump would go on to interrupt Mr. Biden at nearly every opportunity, and Mr. Biden would not let many of Mr. Trump’s misstatements go unchallenged.
(Though some thought he might have also deserved some pity.)
The sight of three men all arguing and trying to cut one another off was an all-too-familiar sight to many.
And the scene reminded quite a few others of a recent movie in which Adam Sandler spends much of his screen time yelling at associates about overdue payments and sports wagers.
Lines that we’ll be talking about four years from now.
Amid the chaos, both Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden fired a few zingers at each other that broke through the cacophony. And they did offer a few comments that struck viewers as noteworthy.
On separate occasions, Mr. Biden told Mr. Trump to “shut up, man” and to “shush.” And some journalists and partisans expressed surprise when the former vice president told Mr. Trump directly, “You’re the worst president that America has ever had.”
Not one to take insults lightly, Mr. Trump returned fire, arguing that he had “done more in 47 months” than Mr. Biden had “in 47 years” — a sharp criticism of Mr. Biden’s long career in Washington. But Mr. Trump also drew considerable attention and outcry when he was asked whether he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups — and demurred.
“Proud Boys,” he said, referring to a far-right group that has endorsed violence, “stand back and stand by.”
And as some immediately began to question the wisdom of even holding another debate between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, the MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow offered a humble suggestion that many Twitter users appeared to endorse: