A Sharply Split Screen

A Sharply Split Screen

2020-10-16 13:45:09

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It was a metaphor for a divided country.

Rather than debating each other last night — before a giant television audience spanning the political spectrum — President Trump and Joe Biden held dueling events, each on a separate network. It happened because Trump, who rejects so many of the traditions of American politics, had pulled out of a scheduled debate. Each candidate instead spoke to an audience that was probably dominated by his own supporters.

Biden’s event was fairly low-key, with him speaking in detail about his policy ideas, under questioning from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and Pennsylvania voters. Trump’s was more combative, as he made several misleading statements and NBC’s Savannah Guthrie pressed him on them.

The key moments:

Will the events matter? Probably not. Presidential debates rarely cause major shifts in the polls, and these events were less memorable than a debate. But it’s always hard to know what matters in presidential politics.

Analysis: “My focus group applauds Biden’s humility tonight. If this race were about persona, Biden would win the vast majority of these undecided voters — but his policies scare some of them,” Frank Luntz, the conservative pollster, wrote.

Maggie Haberman, The Times: “The president feels aggrieved, in case that isn’t clear. He knows the polling shows he’s trailing Biden and he’s consumed by it, because he doesn’t respect Biden, and can’t imagine losing to him.”

David Freedlander, Politico Magazine: “Having separate televised interviews is way more interesting and informative than having these guys on stage at the same time.”

For more: See The Times’s main story; a longer list of highlights; a fact check; and Times Opinion writers on the night’s best and worst moments.

What’s next: Trump and Biden have both signaled they will show up for next week’s debate — on Thursday — which is the final one scheduled.


In part, the pattern seems to reflect changing times: As the Supreme Court has become more politicized, family has become a strategic way to humanize a nominee. Antonin Scalia had even more children than Barrett — nine — and yet they played only a modest role in his 1986 nomination hearing.

Of course, Barrett and Scalia are also different in another way: She is a mother, not a father.

Light and spicy, this red lentil soup is packed with flavor and painless to make. Lemon adds brightness to the deep cumin and chile flavors.

In an effort to encourage more sustainable living, the Swedish furniture giant Ikea will be buying back some of its own used furniture from customers in 27 countries. The company will resell, donate or recycle the items.

While the program won’t be available in the U.S., Vox reports that the furniture resale market is thriving. With people leaving cities during the pandemic, there is plenty of furniture available at cheap rates online. “I will probably never buy another new piece of furniture again,” one shopper gushed.


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