It was a mostly peaceful debate, at least by the standards that our progressive media apply to protests these days. They don’t, of course, apply the same standards to events they like as to those they dislike. My favorite media condemnation came from CNN’s Jake Tapper, who called the presidential debate “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.” He could have said, “It was like Portland in that hall!” but that would have seemed like a plea for law and order, a principle and a phrase that Democrats eschew this year.

Besides, the hall itself was eerily quiet. The socially distanced “crowd,” or audience, rather, obeyed moderator Chris Wallace’s injunction to remain silent, even if no one on stage did. “Silence is violence,” shout the Black Lives Matter protestors to cowering restaurant patrons in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; but silence is golden when the media (and science) say so. If a raucous and numerous crowd of partisans had been present to interrupt the interrupting speakers and applaud their faction’s favorite, the evening would have seemed more normal, more a reflection of the actual divisions in American politics. Against the background of icy silence, however, the candidates’ political brawl came across as, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, a “cringe-worthy 90 minutes of yelling and finger-pointing.”


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