First 2016 Presidential Debate – Analysis
In the epic presidential debate on September 27, 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump needed to each accomplish one distinct objective, respectively. Clinton, given the questions swirling around her health, particularly after the passing out episode during the 9/11 memorial service at ground zero in New York, needed to demonstrate that she was physically able to perform the job of president and commander in chief. In addition, she needed to reflect likeability and friendliness. Trump needed to demonstrate acceptability, or plausibility, to be president and commander in chief, given questions raised about his temperament by his opponent.
Both candidates accomplished their objective during the debate. Clinton’s performance indicated that she was alert, and able to articulate her views in a polished and effective manner. Trump’s performance demonstrated that there was no basis for concern about his temperament, as he was focused, and reserved; and even restrained in his response to a blistering attack on his interaction with some women in his business and television endeavors. He passed the acceptability threshold in stellar fashion. Given that both candidates achieved their objective, the question is who won the first of three debates?
Clinton won on style and polish; which is expected given her decades long experience in politics. Trump won on substance, authenticity, and empathy toward others. Unfortunately for Clinton, it was more important for Trump to achieve his objective of demonstrating plausibility, than it was for Clinton to achieve her objective of avoiding a health related episode. In effect, as long-time Democratic Party pollster Pat Cadell said, based upon a scientific poll conducted after the debate, “Trump won on the most critical factor, on whether Clinton or Trump was more ‘plausible’ as president, 46 percent to her 42 percent. Like most debates, this debate did not shift the race. What it did do was show Trump as plausible, as a strong leader and more importantly that he cares about people,” he said. “Trump really helped himself out tonight.” (Breitbart 2015) In effect, the debate was a draw; no one closed the sale. However, Trump by refusing to be rattled, maintaining his composure and exercising some restraint, settled the issue of temperament, being now viewed as plausible, and qualified to be president.
Finally, it must be observed that the moderator, NBC News anchor, Lester Holt, performed his role in an egregiously biased manner which favored Clinton. Although assigning a motive to Mr. Holt’s conduct would be speculative, there is no doubt that this occurred. An analysis of the questioning indicates that Holt interrupted Trump 41 times during the debate, compared with 7 times for Clinton. The possibility that this was accidental is minuscule based upon inductive logic, as the disparity between the numbers of interruptions is too large. Moreover, Holt asked 6 follow-up questions of Trump, compared to -0- for Clinton, reflecting a clear bias of the moderator against Trump. This was unfair to Trump, and the voting public, and also explains why Trump was in the position of continually defending himself during the debate, as compared to Clinton. Such disgraceful behavior should be reported by all responsible news media venues, and compel an investigation by NBC News, and the presidential debate commission. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen in today’s highly politicized hard news industry environment. Hence, no one should be surprised if there is no discernible difference between the moderating of the first debate, and that of those remaining, in this highly unusual and consequential election season.
Article By Allen Sutton