Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, September 27th, 2016.

Facepalm Time for Fox News

Bad Hair, News Media

This is High Derp, even by Fox standards. Remember this part of last night’s debate?

HOLT: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your…

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.

HOLT: In 2002…

TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she — frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

HOLT: My question is, since you supported it…

TRUMP: Just — would you like to hear…

HOLT: … why is your — why is your judgment…

TRUMP: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

HOLT: The record shows otherwise, but why — why was…

TRUMP: The record does not show that.

HOLT: Why was — is your judgment any…

TRUMP: The record shows that I’m right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows? Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said — and he called me the other day — and I spoke to him about it — he said you were totally against the war, because he was for the war.

HOLT: Why is your judgment better than…

TRUMP: And when he — excuse me. And that was before the war started. Sean Hannity said very strongly to me and other people — he’s willing to say it, but nobody wants to call him. I was against the war. He said, you used to have fights with me, because Sean was in favor of the war.

And I understand that side, also, not very much, because we should have never been there. But nobody called Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in ’04. But they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq.

And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was definitely — because if you read this article, there’s no doubt. But if somebody — and I’ll ask the press — if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started. He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said, it’s a terrible and a stupid thing. It’s going to destabilize the Middle East. And that’s exactly what it’s done. It’s been a disaster.

HOLT: My reference was to what you had said in 2002, and my question was…

TRUMP: No, no. You didn’t hear what I said.

HOLT: Why is your judgment — why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?


I have a much better — she spent — let me tell you — she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising — you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room, they put names — oh, temperament, let’s go after — I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not have a…

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

TRUMP: Wait. The AFL-CIO the other day, behind the blue screen, I don’t know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said, there’s a person with a temperament that’s got a problem.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?



Good times. Anyway, are we all clear that Lester Holt said that Trump supported the invasion in 2002? So now Fox News is all GOTCHA LESTER HOLT because it found a news clip in which Trump expressed opposition to the war.

But the clip is from 2003.

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Hillary’s Night?

Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

I just re-read what I wrote last night while the debate was going on, and it seems most of the other commentaries I’ve read agree with me. Trump became more and more unglued as the evening wore on, while Clinton kept her cool and smiled serenely while he ranted. This debate should help her; we’ll see.

I also want to point out that every specific policy proposal she made was right out of Bernie Sanders’s playbook. Clintonistas are still complaining that he “damaged” her, and they blame Sanders for the closeness in the poll. But it seems to me he made her a better candidate. Because he challenged her as doggedly as he did, she got a clue what actual voters are concerned about.

T.A. Frank at Vanity Fair summed it up:

Before Monday night’s debate, we all read that Hillary Clinton was planning to bait Donald Trump and that Donald Trump was blowing off debate practice. Two typical responses from jaded readers: 1) If that were Clinton’s real plan, she’d be hiding it. 2) Trump is obviously trying to set expectations low.

But never underestimate the power of incompetence. As it turns out, the pre-debate leaks seem to have been accurate: Clinton baited Trump, and Trump showed up unprepared. So what happened then? Clinton won. If we were to write it as a play:

Clinton campaign pre-debate: We’re going to bait Trump and make him lose his cool.

Trump campaign pre-debate: Whatever.

Hillary Clinton: Bait.

Trump: Loses cool.

Possibly the more important thing is that media are nearly unanimous that Clinton mopped the floor with Trump. Even right-wing media critters are grumbling that he could have done better and that he missed opportunities. So often, we’ve seen that the post-debate spin is more critical to public opinion than the actual debate, and Clinton clearly won the spin.

I mostly disagree with Jeb Lund that Clinton should have been more assertive and gone in for the kill. Yeah, she missed a couple of opportunities to stick a knife between his ribs, so to speak, but she was playing rope-a-dope very well, I thought. A shame Muhammad Ali didn’t live to see it. More assertiveness might have appeared to pull her down to his level.

At one point she even repeated Michelle Obama’s words — When they go low, we go high. Good strategy for last night.

Josh Marshall:

Clinton clearly went into this debate not looking for one or two big “Have you no decency” moments but rather looking to hit him with a rat-tat-tat series of taunts and jabs to see if she could get him to lose his cool and throw him off his game. It ended up happening a lot more quickly than I expected. No more than fifteen minutes in he was getting visibly angry. And he stayed that way for the next hour plus.

From maybe a half hour into the debate Clinton had almost entirely seized the initiative. She was attacking while he responded, sometimes angrily, sometimes with new attacks and very often by doubling down on demonstrable falsehoods he’s been pilloried for for months. At various moments he shuffled in and out of parts of his stump speech. But through most of the exchange he constantly interrupted Clinton, talked over her, denied claims she made which are easily validated. In terms of body language and style it was thermonuclear Rick Lazio.

That said, how this came across to undecided low-information voters is anybody’s guess. But I’ll be surprised if the polls don’t show some improvement in Clinton’s favor in the next few days. Maybe in the next debate she’ll bring the knife. And maybe he’ll actually prepare. But that’s probably expecting too much of him.

As for Lester Holt, seems to me he was barely there. Righties are complaining that his questions favored Clinton, but they were both mostly ignoring his questions anyway and going off on their own tangents. There were several times I wanted him to reign in Trump’s ravings, and Holt sat there and did nothing. That actually may have favored Clinton more than any questions he asked.

Oh, and Amanda Marcotte is already complaining that everything about the debate was sexist. Give it a bleeping rest, Amanda.

Update: Charles Pierce is worth reading.

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