What did Indian media say about the first US Presidential Debate?

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Last Updated: Thu, Sep 29th, 2016, 14:02:23hrs
What did Indian media say about the first US Presidential Debate?

The first of three U.S Presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has concluded. The varying verdicts on “who won the debate” are symptomatic of the starkly divisive nature of the election itself. Indian media has also weighed in considering the impact that the new President will have on India.

Trump, on the day of the debate, issued a short video recorded message inviting Indian Americans to attend the Republican Hindu coalition’s gala charity event to raise money for victims of terrorism and also said that he would be addressing the event which will also see Bollywood stars and religious leaders. The Trump campaign is quoted in The Hindu

“The proceeds of the event will benefit global victims of Islamic terror,” the campaign said, adding that the event christened ‘Humanity United Against Terror’ has been organised by Republican Hindu Coalition, which is founded and headed by Indian American Shalli Kumar from Illinois.

NewsX reported that the gesture showed Trumps favourability to India and is likely to help the government isolate Pakistan if his words are to be believed.

A format quite unfamiliar to Indians, the Firstpost explains the debate rules which is usually negotiated and agreed upon beforehand. The 90 minute debate was divided into six segments which focussed on "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity" and "Securing America."Quoting Mitchell McKinney, a specialist on debates from the University of Missourie –

Unlike the primary debates, where there were multiple candidates on the stage and therefore we heard from Trump periodically, in a 90-minute debate where he's going to have half the time, he can't fill all of this time with one-liners, with self-praise, with the glib attacks — that will wear thin. He will have more opportunities to provide substance. When that time comes, will he have the substance? We will be watching to see.

The expectations were certainly high, but did the show live up to them?

The Indian Express carried the front page visuals of leading American newspapers. Many called it an acerbic and testy debate. The editorial of the same paper however, opined that the debate did nothing to excite audiences and much of it is because of the way events lay out on social media.

TV is left with glittery crumbs from the feast that’s social media — and its pained predictability doesn’t set TRPs soaring. TV is essentially a medium of drama, needing stories of joy and pain, lives like portraits of time, every shade of human disappointment and hope glowing into a million living rooms.

Contrasting the appeal of current President Barack Obama –

Clinton’s or Trump’s lives seem drowned in puffy-pillowed privilege, lacking springy surprise. Being boorish or boring is so 1990s. Neither electrifies TV remotes today

News 18 aired highlights from the debates using a lie meter to point out that Trump made several outrageous claims including blaming Hilary Clinton and Obama for the growth of ISIS and also opposing tax increases on the wealthy claiming that they will create more jobs.

This article in The Wire examines some notable quotes from the debates. One of them was “I say nothing.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered this blunt answer to debate moderator Lester Holt when asked about racial healing and what he might say to Americans who found his continued claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the US racist. Trump, instead of offering any semblance of remorse for his actions, took this opportunity to congratulate himself for compelling Obama to produce his birth certificate and boasted that he was proud of his accomplishment.

Other important issues examined in this piece include Trump’s stance on Chinese currency policy, paid family leave and maternity leave as well as his refusal to make his tax returns public

The Hindu’s editorial, focused on how the deeply conflict-ridden nature of the presidential campaign. With regards to the debate, they say that while analysts call it a win for Hillary Clinton, online polls based on anonymous voting think that Trump was triumphant. The article also points out that the moderator did tip the scales in favour of Clinton by bringing up contentious issues like

“Mr. Trump’s refusal to reveal his tax returns, the “birther” controversy over Barack Obama’s place of birth, Mr. Trump’s alleged support for the Iraq War, and his comment on Ms. Clinton’s “look”.

However, many feel that Trump’s showmanship, despite his offensive comments against women, people of different races, etc has resulted in his popularity.

That Americans may be willing to risk it all and throw a metaphorical grenade at the federal government to shake things up after years of partisan bickering and policy logjams suggests that their leaders must work to heal a bitterly polarised electorate and temper this distaste for the federal governance architecture.

Bobby Ghosh, editor of the Hindustan Times does not see this as a surprise as there has always been a candidate who positions himself/herself as an ‘outsider’ and that it has its own appeal. He writes -

In my own adult lifetime, all but one of the American presidents have been men who projected themselves as anti-establishment challengers of the status quo. That image — and in some instances, it was no more than an image — is what voters seem to like.

Ghosh also goes one step further in calling Trump, the ‘ousider’s outsider’ and that Clinton must be very cautious.

..his threat to tear down the establishment carries real menace. He takes such glee in humiliating the Washington elite, including the grand panjandrums of the Republican Party he purportedly represents, it is hard to see how he might work with them if he were to become president.

SwarajyaMag’s R.Jagannathan feels that there has been a demonization of Trump in the liberal media, that many of the polls on who won the debate coule be under representing votes for Trump.

One should also take the so-called “unbiased” polls with a dash of salt. They may have polled the right people in the right numbers, but the chances of a marginal Trump supporter actually saying he will vote for Trump are lower than the possibility of a marginal Clinton supporter saying she will vote Clinton. The reason is simple: Trump has been demonised so much, the votes in the middle will be chary of identifying with him.

The DNA reported that Trump blamed the moderator for asking him unfair questions and that he was given a bad microphone.

Clinton, speaking to reporters on her campaign plane, said, "Anyone who complains about the microphone is not having a good night."

Despite the divided verdicts, Trump has come under criticism for his misogynistic and patronising attitude towards Clinton. According to NDTV, Trump has an ‘in-your-face style - and not just with women.’ He interrupted Clinton 51 times, thrice as much as her.

Trump subjected the first female presidential candidate from a major party to indignities they experience from men daily, in the workplace and beyond.

Many felt that the remark right at the beginning showed his condescending attitude.

"In all fairness to Secretary Clinton - yes, is that OK?" Trump said. Clinton smiled and nodded. "Good. I want you to be very happy. It's very important to me."At a debate watch party in St. Petersburg at The Queenshead bar, that remark was met with groans in the audience.

On a lighter note, the Scroll referred to Trump as a “whatsapp uncle”, someone who shares misogynistic and inappropriate comments, constantly interrupting conversations.

...pulled a classic WhatsApp uncle stunt and chose to add a 'the' in front of words that doesn't need it at all. "As far as the cyber, I agree to parts of what Secretary Clinton said." The Verge decided to collect all the words Trump chose to use to describe 'the cyber.' Trump later did this again for 'the nuclear.'

As Trump vows to attack Clinton even harder during the next two debates, it is likely to be a fascinating watch.

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