Top headlines

Lead story

After an avalanche of pre-debate news coverage that asked what the two presidential candidates should or must consider, do or say and what viewers should expect and how to watch, the actual candidates finally got on a CNN stage in Atlanta and had their debate.

And what ensued was not the debate that everyone expected. Democrats were panicking after President Joe Biden turned in what was widely perceived as a disastrous performance. Trump supporters, meanwhile, were celebrating their candidate’s confident and largely controlled appearance, despite multiple fact checkers declaring many of Trump’s often wild assertions just that – fabrications.

Two scholars give you their analysis of the debate in today’s lead story. Karrin Vasby Anderson, a political communications expert at Colorado State, quotes the ancient Roman scholar and rhetoric teacher Quintilian, who said that “the ideal orator was a good person, speaking well. He was particularly concerned about the danger that a skilled rhetorician who lacked character could pose to society. A presidential debate ought to showcase two ideal orators − skilled speakers who are also people of character. The June 27 debate offered voters an either-or scenario.”

Mary Kate Cary, a senior fellow in the politics department at the University of Virginia and a former presidential speechwriter, was blunt in her analysis. Biden, she said, “will most likely have caused a disaster for the Democratic Party.”

“Our assignment tonight was to find a moment to react to and put it in context,” Cary said. “I’ve been to multiple presidential debates and watched many more on television over the years, and have never seen anything like this.”

[ We don’t have a paywall or subscription fees. We rely on the generosity of readers like you to sustain our work. ]

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Democracy

U.S. President Joe Biden and Donald Trump participate in the CNN Presidential Debate on June 27, 2024. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Biden crashes, Trump lies: A campaign-defining presidential debate

Mary Kate Cary, University of Virginia; Karrin Vasby Anderson, Colorado State University

Scholars of communication and politics assess a presidential debate with a clear loser, but no clear winner.

Health + Medicine

Economy + Business

Politics + Society

Science + Technology

Ethics + Religion

Arts + Culture

Podcast 🎙️

Trending on site

News Quiz 🧠