Post-debate media roundup: The fly dominates the debate. Also, Mike Pence is sexist.
Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate was a substantive, issue-driven, coherent political debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and a significant amount of the media discussion about and reaction to the debate focused on a fly.
And for a time, the fly dominated the debate discussion.
Daily Caller reporter Andrew Kerr called out the media for its triviality.
Aside from the fly, immediate media reaction to the debate focused on the performances of the two vice presidential candidates. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow remarked that the debate reminded her of what politics used to be like, before criticizing the Trump administration.
Maddow led a panel with MSNBC contributors Nicole Wallace and Joy Reid.
Reid, after mentioning the fly, criticized Pence for interrupting Harris, accusing him of “doing a softer version of what Donald Trump did last week.”
“He repeatedly interrupted her, he demanded, well, he also repeatedly interrupted the other woman in the room, which is the moderator who seemed to at some point lose control of him, and he also continually demanded that Kamala Harris answer his questions,” Reid said. “She was not there to answer his questions.”
After Reid noted how Pence apparently steamrolled the moderator and Harris, which she said will hurt Trump with women, Wallace said his performance was “flaccid and anemic,” which she says will hurt Trump with men.
Former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill later joined the MSNBC panel and called Pence “patronizing” and “boring.”
Pence was criticized by other commentators for interrupting Harris. According to CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell claimed that Pence interrupted Harris “twice as often” as Harris interrupted Pence.
MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski complained that Pence overran his time and was not controlled by moderator Susan Page.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes made the interruptions a gender issue.
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos brought sexism into his analysis, accusing Pence of “mansplaining” to Harris.
But two independent reviews of the speaking time reveals that Harris had equal time with Pence, if not more.
Ben Shapiro said that Pence’s performance was “effective,” which is why commentators assumed he spoke more.
Others said Pence performed well. CBS’ Norah O’Donnell said Pence was “masterful.”
“You may not agree with anything his administration does, but in terms of his debating style he repeatedly did not answer the question that was posed to him about the record of the Trump administration on a number of issues, he pivoted and used the time to deliver a direct attack against Joe Biden’s long record in Washington. And I was stunned because I thought that Kamala Harris, the former prosecutor and skilled debater … would be able to make sure it was the Trump record that was on defense.”
“Many times it seemed like Kamala was on defense,” she added.
ABC News newscaster Linsey Davis said Pence “really held [Harris’] feet to the fire” on the Supreme Court.
ABC News contributor Sara Fagen said Pence “did a great job.”
CNN contributor Van Jones said Harris was “run over” and said Pence was “masterful” and “made conservatism seem normal again.”
Harris was criticized for missing opportunities to attack the Trump administration and for dodging some questions.
NBC’s Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell noted Harris “didn’t score” on the issue of masks.
CNN’s Jake Tapper criticized Harris for dodging a question on packing the Supreme Court.
Conservatives, for the most part, say Pence won the debate. Progressives say Harris won. But if debates are won on memorability, we should all acknowledge the fly as the true winner.