Biden debate debacle: 10 eye-opening media responses, from MSNBC panic to ‘The View’ calling for replacement

Biden debate debacle: 10 eye-opening media responses, from MSNBC panic to ‘The View’ calling for replacement

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The first debate of the 2024 presidential campaign didn’t go to plan for President Biden. If the goal was to assuage concerns about his age and viability, it couldn’t have gone worse.

Shortly after the debate began and Biden began his notably halting, unsure and raspy performance, the takes began pouring in, and it didn’t get better in the aftermath. 

From calls to step aside from the nomination to outright emotional reactions from his fervent supporters, here are 10 of the most eye-opening media responses to Biden’s debate showing: 


MSNBC’s Joy Reid says Democrats ‘approaching panic’

MSNBC host Joy Reid appeared downtrodden as she said her phone was buzzing with Obamaworld and Bidenworld figures frantically texting her with concerns that Biden appeared “extremely feeble and weak,” adding that his performance left many in his own party rattled heading into November.

“My phone really never stopped buzzing throughout. And the universal reaction was somewhere approaching panic,” Reid said.

“The people who were texting with me were very concerned about President Biden seeming extremely feeble, seeming extremely weak,” she continued. “Joe Biden’s job was to reassure them tonight. His job was to calm his party, to make them feel that, ‘Yes, I can do this. I have four more years in me. I have the ability and the stamina and the strength to do four more’ … He did not do that. He did the opposite of that.”

MSNBC’s Alex Wagner says Biden failed to prove he’s not too old

MSNBC host Alex Wagner, who joined the channel from the debate spin room in Atlanta, painted a grim picture when asked about the mood among Democrats and Biden allies on site.

“I am not going to put a fine sheen on it or a spin on it, even though I am in the spin room. There has been a uniformly negative reaction to Biden’s performance tonight,” a dejected Wagner told viewers. 

The MSNBC host, who is married to former President Obama’s White House chef, said Biden is “battling a caricature of himself as an enfeebled person” and did nothing to disabuse “the notion that he is very old and was lost frequently in that debate.”

“He turned a response on abortion into a mention of a migrant killing. I mean, this is a person that clearly was over-prepared and had a lot of different points that were sort of swimming around in his head, and as a result, it felt like the answers that were legible, if you will, were not nearly delivered with the force and the clarity that they should’ve been,” she said. 

CNN’s Van Jones gets emotional 

CNN political commentator and former Obama adviser Van Jones appeared close to tears following the widely panned debate showing.

“I just want to speak from my heart,” Jones said. “I love that guy. That’s a good man. He loves his country. He‘s doing the best that he can, but he had a test to meet tonight to restore confidence of the country and of the base. And he failed to do that. And there‘s a lot of people who are going to want to see him consider taking a different course now.”

“We‘re still far from our convention, and there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward, if he will allow us to do that,” he continued. “But that was not what we needed from Joe Biden, and it’s personally painful for a lot of people. It‘s not just panic, it’s pain of what we saw tonight.” 

Jones shared the clip on social media with the caption, “I love Joe Biden. But tonight’s debate hurt.”


CNN’s Anderson Cooper gets testy with Vice President Kamala Harris

CNN’s Anderson Cooper took a serious tone when he welcomed Vice President Kamala Harris following the debate and quickly put an emphasis on Biden’s poor performance. 

“Democratic lawmakers watching the debate were worried about the performance. One said it was a disaster and another called it a train wreck. Those are Democrats especially worried that Biden did not punch back on Trump‘s lies,” Cooper said. 

Harris tried to pivot to lambasting Trump as a liar and laid out a detailed case against their opponent’s record, but Cooper cut her off. 

“All that may be true, but the President of the United States was not able to make that case to Donald Trump on the stage tonight,” Cooper said. “You debated against then-Vice President Biden four years ago, and he was a very different person on the stage four years ago when you debated him. That‘s certainly true, is it not?”

Harris suggested that Biden’s record is more important than one 90-minute debate, but Cooper continued to press.

“Can you say that you are not concerned at all having watched the president‘s performance tonight?” Cooper asked. 

Drudge Report banner panics over Biden showing

It’s lost much of its sway, but the once-prominent news aggregator Drudge Report drew attention over its banner blaring Thursday night, “OPERATION: REPLACE BIDEN.”

“DEMS SCRAMBLE WITH 130 DAYS TO GO! DEBATE CATASTROPHE,” Drudge Report wrote in all caps. It included a poll question over who would be the best Democrat to replace him out of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Harris or “Other.”

A banner published by the news aggregator site Drudge Report following the CNN Presidential Debate. (Screenshot/Drudge Report)

The Drudge Report took on a sharply anti-Trump bent over the years after once being a supporter of the Republican when he first ran for president. 

New York Times columnist says debate made him ‘weep,’ editorial board calls for Biden to drop out

Liberal columnist Thomas Friedman, a close friend of Biden, wrote a somber piece after the debate headlined, “Joe Biden Is a Good Man and a Good President. He Must Bow Out of the Race.”

“I watched the Biden-Trump debate alone in a Lisbon hotel room, and it made me weep. I cannot remember a more heartbreaking moment in American presidential campaign politics in my lifetime — precisely because of what it revealed: Joe Biden, a good man and a good president, has no business running for re-election,” Friedman wrote. 

“The Biden family and political team must gather quickly and have the hardest of conversations with the president, a conversation of love and clarity and resolve,” he continued. “To give America the greatest shot possible of deterring the Trump threat in November, the president has to come forward and declare that he will not be running for re-election and is releasing all of his delegates for the Democratic National Convention.”

He added: “Biden has been a friend of mine since we traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan together after 9/11, when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so I say all of the above with great sadness.”

Later in the day, The New York Times editorial board called for Biden to leave the race in a stunning piece. 

“President Biden has repeatedly and rightfully described the stakes in this November’s presidential election as nothing less than the future of American democracy,” the editorial board began Friday. 

“Mr. Biden has said that he is the candidate with the best chance of taking on this threat of tyranny and defeating it. His argument rests largely on the fact that he beat Mr. Trump in 2020,” the Time editorial board continued. “That is no longer a sufficient rationale for why Mr. Biden should be the Democratic nominee this year.” 

The Times offered a blunt assessment as to how voters perceived the president, declaring, “Biden is not the man he was four years ago,” and calling for him to step aside. 

“Mr. Biden has been an admirable president… But the greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform is to announce that he will not continue to run for re-election,” the editorial board wrote. 


MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough questions fitness for office

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough declared his “love” for Biden but admitted that his performance against former President Trump calls into question whether Biden should be running for re-election. 

Scarborough asked, “If he were CEO and he turned in a performance like that, would any corporation in America, any Fortune 500 corporation in America keep him on as CEO?”

Scarborough made clear that this criticism was painful due to his personal affection for the president. He bickered with his wife and co-host, Mika Brzezinski, who told everyone to “calm down” about the poor debate performance. 

“You’re the only one raising your voice. Everybody is calm here,” Scarborough said.

MSNBC’s Claire McCaskill admits Biden ‘failed’ to prove he’s fit for office

Former Democratic Missouri Sen. and MSNBC political analyst Claire McCaskill admitted she was heartbroken because Biden “failed” to prove he’s fit enough for another term in office.

“I’m not the only one whose heart is breaking right now,” McCaskill said.

“Joe Biden had one thing he had to do tonight and he didn’t do it. He had one thing he had to accomplish, and that was reassure America that he was up to the job at his age, and he failed at that tonight,” she added. “I don’t know if things can be done to fix this.”

‘The View’ erupts with calls for Biden to step aside

Several anti-Trump pundits on ABC’s “The View” said Biden should abandon his re-election campaign on Friday.

Co-host Sunny Hostin, a strong Biden supporter, told the panel “most of us are mourning.”

“It was really hard to watch and it kind of pains me to say this today, but I think President Biden needs to step down and be replaced,” co-host Sara Haines said. 

“If we want to defeat Donald Trump in November, I absolutely think that,” she continued. “And I think Biden’s team saw it coming. I think that’s why they pushed for an earlier debate, so they’d have time to change course if needed.” 

Haines urged people close to Biden to have the “very hard conversation” that he needs to step aside. 

“Democrats need to stop spinning the age problem,” Haines said. 

Co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin, who worked for the Trump administration but has since emerged as an outspoken critic of her former boss, said she was in “shock” watching the debate. 

“I’ve had concerns for a couple of years about Biden’s age. It was stunningly worse than I expected, the performance,” Griffin said. 


Washington Post columnist shreds Biden

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius penned a harsh piece, “Why Biden didn’t accept the truth that was there for all to see,” which questioned if the president has the strength and wisdom to step aside.

“It was obvious nearly a year ago that President Biden shouldn’t run for a second term… Yet Biden and his inner circle persisted, driving on toward Thursday’s disastrous televised debate, which vividly portrayed the failings the country had already detected,” Ignatius wrote

“How did this happen? What was the combination of moral conviction, personal confidence and selfishness that propelled Biden, despite the risks, toward his decision to seek another term? I have an unusual window on Biden’s march toward the precipice,” he added before noting that he said Biden shouldn’t run again back in September. 

“It shouldn’t have gotten as much attention as it did, because it said no more than what many Democrats were mulling through last summer. But perhaps because I have been a strong supporter of most of Biden’s foreign and domestic policies, this call for him to step aside created a stir,” Ignatius wrote.


Fox News Digital’s Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Gabriel Hays, Jeffrey Clark, Lindsay Kornick and Yael Halon contributed to this report. 

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