‘What was wrong with him?’ MSNBC hosts get ‘panicked’ texts from Dems melting down over Biden debate

‘What was wrong with him?’ MSNBC hosts get ‘panicked’ texts from Dems melting down over Biden debate

MSNBC host Joy Reid admitted that Democrats are on the verge of a “full-fledged panic” following President Biden’s alarming debate performance against former President Trump on Thursday.

Biden, who spoke with a hoarse, raspy voice, had a number of verbal missteps throughout the 90-minute CNN debate where he appeared frail and incoherent at various times on stage. The White House attributed this to “a cold.”


During the post-debate analysis on MSNBC, Reid said Democrats, specifically “campaign people,” were 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.

President Joe Biden walks off stage during the CNN Presidential Debate at the CNN Studios on June 27, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Obviously, Joe Biden comes in with certain deficits. He has a stutter. It is more difficult for him to communicate for that reason. So there is a lot to mitigate the way that he speaks, and you can understand it. We have observed for a long time. 

“That said, I, too, was on the phone throughout much of the debate with Obama world people, with Democrats, with people who are political operatives, with campaign operatives. 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.


The longtime White House defender said the president’s primary job was to convince his own party that he possesses the mental and physical abilities to serve another four years in office. Biden, she said, “did the opposite.”

“He needed to settle Democrats…Democrats always talk about Democrats are bed wetters, Democrats [are] always panicking … they are neurotic. But 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,’” she said. 

“He did not do that. He did the opposite of that,” she said. “He made them more panicked. The people who were texting me were even more panicked. They actually expected it to be better than it was, and now they are in, I won’t say a full-fledged panic, but it is getting there.”

Reid said that Biden “passionately believes that he is the only person who can beat Donald Trump,.

“The problem is, after tonight, his party does not believe that.”

Joy Reid

MSNBC host Joy Reid said, ‘The people who were texting with me were very concerned about President Biden seeming extremely feeble, seeming extremely weak.’ (Screenshot/MSNBC)

MSNBC host Nicole Wallace expressed a similar sentiment, acknowledging that there will be “a lot of concern” surrounding Biden’s debate performance in the days to come.


“I was on the phones for some of it after that became clear, and there is a conversation happening inside Biden’s circle and certainly a much more frank conversation happening inside the Democratic coalition. And I think there will be stories of a lot of concern about the performance tonight,” she said.

When Rachel Maddow asked her to clarify her remarks, Wallace did not mince words.

“I think conversations range [from] whether he should be in this race tomorrow morning to what was wrong with him…,” she replied. “The voice was very, very soft. It wasn’t the Joe Biden performance at the State of the Union. It wasn’t seizing a moment to get on the offensive on immigration. It wasn’t Joe Biden on the offensive on January 6. It wasn’t Joe Biden on the offensive on abortion, his two shining issues.” 

Wallace faulted the CNN moderators for not fact-checking former President Trump, who she said “lied as often as he breathed.” 

“But, they did give Joe Biden time to fact-check and he didn’t do much of that, either.” she said.

“It is not our job to tell people what to see and hear,” Wallace added, “but what I heard from a Biden aide is, ‘We can’t necessarily spin too much what people did see and hear.’” 

Reid appeared to blame Biden campaign staff for making the optics worse because they assigned him the podium on the right side of the screen.

“Biden likes to look over at the moderators and to look away. Had he been on the left, he would’ve been facing Donald Trump. He looked like he was looking off camera,” she said. “Every decision they made, exacerbated the problem.”

Biden and Trump debate

US President Joe Biden speaks as he participates in the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections with former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024. ((Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images))

MSNBC host Alex Wagner, who joined the channel from the debate spin room in Atlanta, cast 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,” she said. 

“Surely, as Joy said, this was about revealing who Donald Trump was, but it was also Joe Biden battling a caricature of himself as an enfeebled person, an impression that Trump has been eager to convey to the country, and he did nothing to disabuse, I think, the country of the notion that he is very old and was lost frequently in that debate.”

Wagner said Biden was “rambling and incoherent” during responses that should’ve been a “layup for him.”

“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.

Nicolle Wallace interviews Biden

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said Democrats are reconsidering whether Biden should be in the race as of tomorrow morning. (Screenshots/MSNBC)


“Donald Trump was, in some ways, the most ‘Trumpy’ he has been lately, full of lies and misinformation, but it was almost an afterthought. The press that I’ve spoken with and the, sort of, the focus in this room is just that the Biden campaign wanted this debate. This was their idea. And this is what happened as part of their strategy. It is confounding,” Wagner said.

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