Someone's Crazy Uncle

Front photo Evan Vucci/AP

Before the fact, NBC was rightly slammed for its morally dubious "craven ratings stunt" of caving to Trump's tantrum and letting him have his lunatic say at a town hall opposite Biden's. Even Trump joined the NBC-trashing, calling them "the worst" of fake news but shrugging it off as "a free hour on television." In the end, the move turned out to be pretty revelatory, though probably not the way he'd envisioned. The night-and-day, two-planets result: Biden's ABC event was dignified, substantial, and, to many viewers, comforting. He spoke calmly and coherently about real issues: COVID, climate change, his evolving views on racial justice, the rights of LGBTQ and trans people, especially trans women of color. Once the cameras went off, he kept answering people's questions, because they still wanted to hear from him and he still wanted to talk to them. Over at NBC, meanwhile, Trump ranted, raged, made stuff up and attacked admirably aggressive moderator Savanna Guthrie, who asked him real questions, challenged his lying responses, and fact-checked him in real time - or in what horrified Fox hosts called an "ambush."

On COVID's 8 million cases and 218,000 deaths: We're "a winner" and "rounding the corner." On $400 million he owes to who knows: "When you look at vast properties like I have...$400 million is a peanut, I'm extremely under-levered (sic)." Most stunningly, on QAnon, their claim Democrats belong to a Satanic pedophiles ring, and re-tweeting the theory Biden killed SEAL Team 6 to cover a fake Bin Laden operation: He just re-tweeted it, he can't denounce them when he knows "nothing about QAnon," but “What I do hear is they are very strongly against pedophilia," and anyway what about antifa? When Guthrie confronted him - "You do know" - he lost it. "Let's waste the whole show," he snarled. “You started off with white supremacy...You started off with something else. Let’s go. Keep asking me these questions. So cute” - definitely a moment that'll play well with women voters he needs. Still, Guthrie kept at it: "But why would you re-tweet that? You're the president - you're not someone's crazy uncle." Mary Trump, essentially: Hold my beer. So much for the media's "duelling" town halls. It was not a tough call. Nor, noted David Sedaris on the subject of "undecided" voters, has it ever been.

"To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart, and eventually parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?" To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment, and then ask how the chicken is cooked." - David Sedaris.

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