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The stop-start debate between a belligerent and bullying Trump and a harried Biden was increasingly marked by fractious back and forths, with the president repeatedly interrupting the former vice president and having to be chided by moderator Chris Wallace. Among a whole host of low moments during the debate, Trump failed to denounce white supremacists.
Given the U.S.’s power and economic influence, the election usually garners interest around the globe, but November’s vote has had an unprecedented level of scrutiny as the world deals with transnational problems such as the novel coronavirus pandemic and trade wars.
Most international newspapers blamed Trump for the chaotic affair with despair a common theme found in European news reports of the debate. Germany and Europe’s largest weekly news magazine Der Spiegel described the debate as “disastrous” and an “unworthy spectacle.” Spain’s El Pais wrote that the debate “was surely the most chaotic and least edifying spectacle of political theater ever produced on American television.”
French newspaper Liberation summed up the debate as “chaotic, childish, grueling.” The editorial in France’s Le Monde called the debate a “danger to democracy” after Trump’s continued questioning of the validity of the vote. “Four years of Trumpism have gone a long way in weakening one of the world’s greatest democracies. It’s a lesson for everyone else,” wrote Le Monde.
U.K. newspapers didn’t hold their punches. The Guardian described the debate as “the worst in American history, a national humiliation,” adding, “the rest of the world—and future historians—will presumably look at it and weep.” “Joe Biden told the President to shut up, called him a racist, called him a liar – and he was by far the politest candidate,” wrote The Daily Telegraph.
People in Japan who watched it on NHK (our public broadcaster) had to watch three men shout over each other while three interpreters interpreted over each other simultaneously soooo yes but not really?? pic.twitter.com/1gItayw55f https://t.co/vWV8Top38J
— 伊吹早織 Saori Ibuki (@ciaolivia) September 30, 2020
“The United States embarrassed itself before the world for nearly 100 minutes,” was the lede for the Times of India‘s damning report on the debate. Echoing a familiar refrain, the Times of India wrote that it was “fair to say both men lost. America lost.” Brazil’s O Globo wrote that it was “a shameful debate in which the two candidates had horrible performances. Perhaps the worst in decades.”
Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “As a means of helping American voters understand the policy differences between the two major-party candidates, the first US presidential debate was an epic and demoralizing failure. As a representation of a democracy and global superpower in deep trouble, and possibly long-term decline, it was a vivid portrait.”
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