If you were one of the over 73 million people who tuned into the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, then it takes a certain degree of masochism to watch the follow-up.
While the late September debate could easily be summed up as a tangle of hair-pulling expletives (it was so bad, in fact, that even news pundits were left shell-shocked), tonight's debate was at least much tamer in comparison–thanks in part to the Commission on Presidential Debates making the move to mute the two contenders's mics when it wasn't their turn to speak. The decision followed the disastrous first debate, in which Trump and Biden loudly spoke over both each other and the moderator during the majority of the program.
The two faced off at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. This also marks the pair's second debate, rather than the original scheduled slate of three debates, due to disagreements over debate timing and format following the president's COVID-19 diagnosis in early October.
Kristen Welker, a White House correspondent for NBC, moderated the final debate, choosing to zero in on six topics: fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership.
Twitter, as per usual, reacted accordingly.
People, still recovering from the first debate, wondered whether it was even worth it to tune into tonight's program.
to watch this debate or to protect my peace
— eleanor (@snitchery) October 23, 2020
me trying to stop watching the debate but i crave discourse pic.twitter.com/Pb8IXZWYCQ
— dilara (@IngmarBoobman) October 23, 2020
Watching the debate— why? Because my brain is soaking fucking wet babe.
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) October 23, 2020
why did i turn this on, i could be watching the chicago seven movie again
— Ari M. Brostoff (@AriBrostoff) October 23, 2020
no i'm not watching the debates i don't hate myself nearly that much
— dante but spooky 🌹 (@videodante) September 30, 2020
if you've already voted and you're watching the debate you are an irredeemable sicko and pervert
— lauren (@LLW902) October 23, 2020
I am not watching the debate I am eating some salmon
— raina (@quakerraina) October 23, 2020
yeah I'm watching the DEBATE
golden Brooks again
jill mArie jones
listen folks I am watching Girlfriends
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) October 23, 2020
This sucks I wish I was watching Emily in Paris for the first time again
— Rachel Sennott (@Rachel_Sennott) October 23, 2020
Others commented on the new mic muting feature.
— Louie ⚡️ (@homojenner) October 23, 2020
— cass-a-frass (@cassfrass__) October 23, 2020
The fact that a presidential debate between two grown adults requires a disclaimer that microphones will be muted if they can’t let one another talk is just... pic.twitter.com/aE1bFsTeZl
— Soraya Membreno @ #ONA20 (@SorayaMem) October 23, 2020
The mute button broke?
— Extension of Nia Long (@ScottieBeam) October 23, 2020
Who needs a debate mute button when you have a freakin’, debate change channel button. Thank you
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) October 23, 2020
A few responded to Trump saying New York is a "ghost town."
everytime trump says new york is a ghost town 1,000 personal essays are born
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) October 23, 2020
"Why I Left New York," by Donald Trump
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 23, 2020
if new york is dead how come [thing i did]
— flat la croix w a straw stan (@EmmaSpecter) October 23, 2020
I'll tell you what's NOT a ghost town, New York twitter yelling "IT'S NOT A GHOST TOWN" at each other
— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) October 23, 2020
it's crazy how all the ghosts in New York are committing so much crime
— Allegra Kirkland (@allegrakirkland) October 23, 2020
Trump also alleged he was the "least racist person in the room" and compared himself to Abraham Lincoln...
Abraham Lincoln in hell everytime y’all mention him in the debates pic.twitter.com/hcIwetlS9H
— yes, i’m 5’9. (@SmdSzn) October 23, 2020
Not them fighting over the bones of Abraham Lincoln
— EMPRESS SIN ALYSS (@JUPITERMOVESME) October 23, 2020
i didn’t SAY i WAS Abraham Lincoln i said I was LIKE Abraham Lincoln that is different TAKE IT BACK! pic.twitter.com/hwF24NrGiD
— Sasha Gilthorpe (@sgilthorpe) October 23, 2020
tr*mp thinks he’s abraham lincoln he should go see a play
— jimim⁷ (@yvesuols) October 23, 2020
Easily one of the worst nights for Abraham Lincoln that have ever happened in a theater.
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) October 23, 2020
The debate inevitably inspired some astute political analysis.
tbh this Trump guy seems bad
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) October 23, 2020
Can we please stop asking these candidates about how they’re going to address racism and just accept as a premise that the existing system is fundamentally racist and this current debate is an example?
— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) October 23, 2020
This entire debate is just showing how much of a scam capitalism is.
— 🌽🌽Erica, the white trash socialist🌽🌽™️ (@herosnvrdie69) October 23, 2020
Some observed the general absurdity of political theater by contributing some of their own generally absurd comments.
trump on the other hand opted for the 2010 winter bronzer look again
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) October 23, 2020
ah so we've gotten to the dick measuring segment of the debate
— first-mate prance (@bocxtop) October 23, 2020
just saw this backstage at the debate pic.twitter.com/is3rxmXbOc
— Patrick Halloween (@lunch_enjoyer) October 23, 2020
— Joey (@joey_hiphop) October 23, 2020
Biden is so fiery tonight I feel like he got a shot of that stuff they injected into their butts in mad men
— mary beth (@marybethbarone) October 23, 2020
this debate is boring when are they gonna talk about ariana
— clemmie (@cIemmie) October 23, 2020
I want the moderator to tell us her astrological sign
— Rachel Sennott (@Rachel_Sennott) October 23, 2020
JOE A FREAAAAK pic.twitter.com/lkg4Lur7HP
— kill the cop in your org (@pigmentpariah) October 23, 2020
Finally, some Twitter users tapped into their masochistic side in order to trudge through the entire 90-minute program.
I want this debate to k*ll me.
— marla (@prolepeach) October 23, 2020
i watched the debate for 3 minutes.
— 👻Gene Park🎃 (@GenePark) October 23, 2020
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