CNN Spends the First 30 Minutes After Debate Critiquing Trump's Performance

Within mere seconds of the first 2016 presidential debate ending Monday night, CNN’s post-debate analysis was dedicated to critiquing Donald Trump’s performance. The first round of critiques came from Jake Tapper who stated he felt that the first 30 minutes went well for Trump, while the following hour was dominated by Hillary Clinton. His colleagues Wolf Blitzer and John King agreed with both noting Trump took Clinton’s bait often and his many lies, respectively.

The focus on Trump carried over to CNN’s America’s Choice 2016 panel, where Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger agreed that Trump lost control of the debate. “On taxes, on the question of birther, at the Iraq war, and at the very end this question of stamina,” she stated, “When these charges of misogyny were raised against him, he started just attacking Rosie O'Donnell.

Former Adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod lambasted Trump for his style leading up to and during the debate, “Well, Trump was Trump and it wasn't good for him tonight.” “I think there's a terrible night for him,” he continued, “She came in, it turns out that prep matters, experience matters and it showed tonight.

Playing off of Axelrod, Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson slammed Trump for how he looked and acted during the debate:

I mean, the split screen image of her standing there pretty firmly, and him sniffling a lot. He was drinking a lot of water, his facial expressions. It was clear, I thought early on that he was rattled, and it showed. And there were times when she was just happy to let him go deep. Four, five layers deep into birtherism, go four or five layers deep into his taxes and just sit there and let it flow, because he was just digging a hole.

The debate ended a little after 10:39 p.m. eastern time, while the first criticism of Clinton’s debate performance didn’t come until 11:12 p.m. eastern time.

The critique came from Axelrod, but it was tempered with praise for how much Clinton cares about the public. “I wish she is had in places invoked the stories of real people to animate the point she was making, she speaks sometimes in policy terms,” he complained, “She's met these people and they have undoubtedly touched her, and she could have done a better job of bringing them into the discussion.

Even after Axelrod’s comments, the critiques of Clinton were spars and mostly come from panelist Kayleigh McEnany and Jeffrey Lord, both of whom were Donald Trump supporters. 

Transcript below:

CNN
Debate Night in America
September 26, 2016
10:45:45 PM Eastern

ANDERSON COOPER: Fascinating debate, I want to get a quick response from everybody on our panel. Just initial perceptions, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER: I think -- I agree with Jake [Tapper], that at the beginning of the debate, when Donald Trump is on trade, he was on terra firma. And then I think he lost control of the debate, and I think Hillary Clinton controlled the debate. On taxes, on the question of birther, at the Iraq war, and at the very end this question of stamina. When these charges of misogyny were raised against him, he started just attacking Rosie O'Donnell, which was the first time she's ever been mentioned in a presidential debate.

DAVID AXELROD: Well you know, we heard a lot of people from the Trump camp, even some of our friends say, “Let Trump be Trump.” Well, Trump was Trump and it wasn't good for him tonight. What he needed to do tonight was show something more, was to not chase the rabbits down the hole, but add something to people's understanding of his ability to do this job. I think there's a terrible night for him. She came in, it turns out that prep matters, experience matters and it showed tonight.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Yeah, and it literally showed, right? I mean, the split screen image of her standing there pretty firmly, and him sniffling a lot. He was drinking a lot of water, his facial expressions. It was clear, I thought early on that he was rattled, and it showed. And there were times when she was just happy to let him go deep. Four, five layers deep into birtherism, go four or five layers deep into his taxes and just sit there and let it flow, because he was just digging a hole.

11:02:50 PM Eastern

BORGER: Secondly, on the tax issue, I think the problem he had is that when Hillary Clinton started talking about it as a bait and switch, not releasing your taxes, et cetera, and she made it very personal. She said, “That means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools, zero for health care.” And then he said, “That makes me smart” during the campaign. That he didn't –

Tell the Truth 2016

[Crosstalk: Panelists saying that’s an ad]

That he didn't pay his taxes. And then she said, “Well, what are you trying to hide?” And I think that answer resonates with people who say, “Wait a minute. What am I, a chump? I'm paying all this money for schools, vets, et cetera.” And when you're president, it's different.

VAN JONES: And there was a similar moment where I thought he made a tremendous mistake, where basically— the stiffing of the vendors, and he goes, “that’s business.”

[Crosstalk]

So, he actually created two ads that you're going to see within 12 hours tonight, which I think was a big mistake.

The other thing I thought was important, we keep talking about him as if it he was the only person there. Hillary Clinton did some stuff that was really good tonight. Can we give her a little bit of credit? She wandered into the thicket of race and handled it really, really well. She talked about the criminal justice issues really well, she talked about, you know, the private prisons. Stuff we haven't heard on the stage for a national candidate ever, and she handled that really well. Also, I think it was important that to the extent that personality matters, you never saw her get so defensive and that was a part of why I think she was able to continue to care for it.

11:12:06 PM Eastern

AXELROD: What I was saying is that, I wish she is had in places invoked the stories of real people to animate the point she was making, she speaks sometimes in policy terms.

COOPER: It was interesting, though, the specific story she told about her father, which she brought back in and tried to use it against Trump.

AXELROD: Yeah, and she mentioned her granddaughter at the beginning. All these problems she was talking about tonight, have human faces across this country. She's met these people and they have undoubtedly touched her, and she could have done a better job of bringing them into the discussion.


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Tell the Truth 2016 NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Debates Bias by Omission Covert Liberal Activists Double Standards Labeling CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Other CNN Video Anderson Cooper Gloria Borger Nia-Malika Henderson David Axelrod Donald Trump Hillary Clinton