Fact-checking the first presidential debate

Chaos on the debate stage led to poor public reaction

Amanda Plasse, Herald Reporter

The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden aired on the night of Sept. 29. Moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace, there were six topics up for discussion: The Supreme Court, the coronavirus and healthcare, the economy, race and violence, the candidates’ records, and election integrity.

When discussing the topics, the candidates were each given two minutes to respond and then a 15-minute open discussion took place. However, it was extremely hard for each candidate to even get a word in. They were constantly talking over each other and it was hard for anyone to hear the points trying to be made. Even over all this noise, multiple statements were made that were either misleading, lacking context or blatantly false.

When discussing his rallies, President Trump said there have been no negative effects from these events and that they have had 35,000-40,000 people in attendance, adding the events are held outside. These two statements are false because some of his staff members and secret service have tested positive, and some of his rallies were held inside.

Moreover, on the basis of the economy, Biden said, “We left him a booming economy and he caused the recession.” This statement is untrue. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama left him a healthy economy, but it wasn’t booming. Furthermore, President Trump was not the one who caused the recession from the pandemic — that was due to the much-needed shutdown.

When Biden was talking about President Trump’s tax records, he said, “[Trump] says he’s smart because… he takes advantage of the tax code.” This quote is misleading because even though he does somewhat take advantage of the codes, he has also lost an exceptional amount of money, which grants him the right to pay less in federal income tax.

When talking about employment, President Trump said, “They said it would take a miracle to bring back manufacturing. I brought back 700,000 jobs.” This is a false statement considering manufacturing job employment rose by only about 500,000 before the pandemic, according to Chuck DeVore’s Forbes article, and is now down by almost 300,000 since the pandemic recession, according to FactCheck.org.

The debate was meant to address the major issues surrounding American politics as well as the issues every American is facing. The President and his opposing candidate, however, were calling each other names the entire time and doling out personal attacks. After last night, many Americans are scared for the future of this country, no matter who wins the election.

RWU students shared their personal opinions on the debate, regarding the behaviors of both candidates and their impressions of the event as a whole.

“Anyone who thinks any part of last night’s debates by either candidate was in the least bit presidential, needs to re-watch it,” said senior Robert Joannou. “Independents are in no better situation than they were yesterday, and that debate was a mockery of American politics.”

“What I experienced last night was a disgrace to our country as a whole, both sides… This is the future of our nation and they are making it a reality TV show,” said senior Emily Cleary.

Tuesday night’s event was the first of three presidential debates. The final two are scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 at 9 p.m.