The third bout of the Clinton-Trump trilogy came to a close last night, leaving television pundits hyperventilating over a handshake that never happened and viewers who tuned in expecting a night of vitriol and bombast.
Chris Wallace’s moderation of this Thrilla in Nevada did well to keep Trump outbursts to a minimum – relatively speaking– and steered the debate through the murk of projected national debt under each hypothetical administration and the mire of how to handle the problems of a humanitarian crisis and an iron-willed Russian influence in Syria.
Yet for every portion of decency from Wallace’s moderation, the Fox news anchor coupled them with some notable transgressions, at times providing rhetoric and a skew of facts that seemingly served to give shelter to the blatant falsehoods from Trump’s corner and cater to a base accustomed to sensationalism surrounding Clinton’s past as a paid orator.
A question on Clinton’s economic plan saw Wallace asserting the 2009 stimulus package led to the largest decline in GDP growth since 1949, an idea that was backed by no study.
Wallace also brought Wikileaks into play, misusing the information to say Clinton Clinton advocated for a United States without borders. Wallace was referring to a quote from a paid speech of Clinton’s, omitting the language demonstrating where she discussed energy trading.
Considering Wallace’s relationship with the pioneer of locker-room antics himself Roger Ailes, who has been advising Trump on the debates, it would be hard to chalk these instances up to simple ignorance.
Perhaps the grandest sin of the night, however, was the choice to forego a dialogue concerning climate change. Not surprising.
With at least two-thirds of Americans in support of the climate change pact, it would have been an issue that highlighted how out of touch the Trump campaign is with the greatest threat of our time while providing Clinton with a chance to grandstand for a liberal base that is skeptical of her commitment to protecting the environment.
It was a missed chance for the Democratic nominee, who in her conspicuous pivoting when questioned about the Clinton foundation might have applied the same debate tactic to steer the conversation towards the future of American energy and the environment. This would also bolster her chances in November by pairing her well-informed policy next to a non-policy that denies the existence of climate change all together. It was also a missed chance to bring to light the irresponsibility of a moderator that neglected to mention a key issue. A move that, though bold and outside of the “play it safe” playbook, would have provided the plausible façade of strength and guarantee to an influential populace concerned about the fate of American ecologies necessary to garner votes – votes her campaign has struggled to lock in.
Ford is a student at the University of Florida. His work has appeared in the Gainesville Sun. Follow him on Twitter @Justinian_Ford
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