The biggest thing he had going for him on Sunday night, besides his diehard fans, was a corporate media whose members praised his performance, quite possibly because they still want this to look like a real contest so people will keep watching them and advertisers will keep paying.
Reeling from a devastating video that recorded him effectively confessing to serial sexual assault, Trump attacked Clinton instead, trotting out alleged victims of her husband Bill Clinton. Marking the death of irony, he said Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of herself.
The Intercept’s staff live-blogged the debate, trying desperately to focus on any significant issues that matter to ordinary Americans and the rest of the world, and we identified a few.
Foremost among them was Trump’s frank acknowledgement that he totally disagrees with his running mate Mike Pence about how to respond to Syrian and Russian government atrocities in Syria. Pence last week declared his support for “immediately” establishing a safe zone in Syria for civilians fleeing violence. Trump declared his opposition to such a move, instead praising the Syrian, Russian and Iranian governments for “killing ISIS”. When the mostly excellent moderator Martha Raddatz asked him to explain such an astonishing discrepancy, Trump replied, “He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.”
Clinton, meanwhile, contradicted her self rather than her running mate, saying she supports creating “safe zones” in Syria, but is against sending in any U.S. ground troops. You can’t have it both ways.
Clinton also effectively confirmed the authenticity of the presumably hacked speech excerpts, released by WikiLeaks last week, that showed her speaking more frankly than she ever does in public about her pro-corporate agenda with the groups that paid her millions in speaking fees. She said one passage was taken out of context — insisting that she was paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, of all people — thereby making it even more incumbent upon her than ever that she release the full transcripts herself.
Our blog also featured what were effectively dueling post-mortems of Trump’s campaign. Jeremy Scahill despaired that Trump “has empowered fascists, racists and bigots. He did not create them, but he has legitimized them by becoming the nominee and openly expressing their heinous, hateful beliefs.” (Clinton, meanwhile “represents more of the same bipartisan warmongering.”) Zaid Jilani countered that Trump doesn’t leave behind any viable political movement, because his campaign ultimately had less to do with politics than with “demonstrating how easy it is to capture the narratives on television without really anything of substance to say.” Of course, they can both be right, and probably are.
Here are last night’s liveblog posts, in chronological order, starting shortly before the debate started:
- A debate like no other
- Who will attack Republicans more?
- Tim Kaine plays dumb about Wikileaks revelations from Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches
- Trump tricks media into covering meeting with Clinton accusers by calling it “debate prep”
- Here is a list of Donald Trump’s accusers
- Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump is the only Republican nominee ever to be unfit
- Less than a second after apologizing, Donald Trump defends sex assault comments
- Prediction: Democrats won’t tie the GOP brand to Trump, tonight or ever
- Trump threatens to jail his political opponent
- Muslims have helped foil two out of every five al Qaeda plots between 9/11 and 2013
- Trump, refusing to sit, looms over Clinton as she speaks
- Donald Trump attacks Obamacare as akin to Canadian single payer, a system he praised
- Trump may go away, but the people he has empowered will not
- Hillary Clinton should release the full transcripts of her speeches, to clear everything up
- “Russia is new in terms of nuclear,” Trump says, in bizarre error
- Clinton wants no ground troops in Syria, but her plan would require them
- Martha Raddatz should moderate every debate
- Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence have completely different positions on Syria
- People are mad about the debate’s unasked questions
- At St. Louis debate, where’s St. Louis?
- Debate moderators appears to have violated online question rules
- Media pundits are pretending Donald Trump is still competitive to keep up their ratings
- Donald Trump will have no political legacy except proving the weaknesses of political media
- Trump’s angry talk goes over well on Fox News, except for the women in its focus group
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