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Debate reaches 84 million viewers, toppling record


    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton laughs with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump following their presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday.

NEW YORK >> The showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most-watched presidential debate ever, with 84 million viewers.

The Nielsen company said the viewership, over 13 different networks, toppled a record that had stood for 36 years. The previous record for presidential debate viewership was the 80.6 million people who saw the only debate in 1980 between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.

No debate since then had exceeded 70 million viewers.

Social media was humming, too, with Nielsen saying there were some 17.1 million Twitter interactions involving 2.7 million people on Monday. Tivo said that the moment during the debate that caused more people to pause their television and play back what was said came near the end, when Trump said that he will “absolutely support” Clinton if she is elected president.

Clinton has some bragging rights at home. When final results are in, the audience for her first presidential debate will more than double what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, received for his last presidential debate in 1996 (36.3 million viewers).

Only the Super Bowl annually commands a television audience of that size. The biggest audience in U.S. television history was the 114.4 million people who watched the 2015 Super Bowl between New England and Seattle.

The news was particularly good for NBC. Not only did it have more viewers than any other network showing the debate, but “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt’s reviews as moderator were more positive than Matt Lauer received for his interviews with the candidates at a national security forum earlier this month, or CNBC anchors when they did a GOP debate last fall.

Watching the debate was nerve-wracking for NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke because of the pressure on Holt. Burke said at an appearance in London on Tuesday that Holt “ended up doing a very good job.”

Holt was not available for an interview on Tuesday.

Some Republicans were unhappy with Holt, suggesting that he was unfair because he asked tougher questions of Trump, and challenged his facts on issues like Trump’s support for the war in Iraq and a court case involving the “stop-and-frisk” method of policing.

That may account for an overnight change of thinking by the candidate. Interviewed by reporters immediately after the debate, Trump said that “I thought Lester did a really good job” and that he thought Holt brought up the topics he wanted.

Several hours later, on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” Trump said he thought Holt earned a C or a C-plus for his debate performance, and that he asked unfair questions.

The second of three scheduled debates will be Oct. 9. The “town hall”-style forum will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.

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  • Go for the 3rd party candidates:

    Write in vote for either Evan McMullin (BYU-Provo Utah grad and former CIA)….or if you want a female president then Big Island’s own Roseanne Barr (raised in a Jewish family in Salt Lake City Utah, she has a lesbian sister and a gay brother) and she takes medical pakalolo…..before you vote for her…catch her at Honolulu’s Blue Note Jazz Club Saturday Nov 5, 2016….8pm Show.

    forget about Trump/Hillary.

    vote Mitt Romney in 2020

  • all the liberal stations that don’t like trump are moderating these debates, that’s alright, trump can hang in there and still come out good, even with the worst of them. lets see if they let a conservative be a moderator on the last debate, then we will here all the liberals crying foul.

  • And also a record was the 80 million of us who thought both candidates lacked any ability to fill the role of President and would really like the board of elections to show us some other options, like Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

      • the question was set up as an old press trick. I do not know his weed consumption but just because someone wants to end the drug war does not make them a weed smoker. It was not weed that got him up all the mountains he climbed, or finish the Ironman tri’s he did, or successfully run the business he started or the State he governed.
        Accepting him is easy compared to either of the two most hated candidate’s in American history.

        • Mike Barnicle: “What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?”

          Gary Johnson: “And what is Aleppo?”

          Seems straightforward to me.

        • Going along with the conversation that was not talking about Syria, terror, or foreign policy.
          , he asked what is going on in a leppo. Not Aleppo, Syria. But notice Mr. Johnson owned up to being caught off guard, didn’t bust on the press or the other party like Donald Clinton.

        • Thanks for your lucid responses to a couple of “voters” actually hypocritical enough to complain about a simple, easily remedied lack of information attributed to Gary Johnson while perfectly willing to ignore the myriad of legitimate complaints justifiably lodged against the candidate of their choice. Obviously their comments are intended as more of an effort to feel better about their own pitiful choice as opposed to any legitimate fault with an undeniably superior one.

        • This issue alone disallows me from taking him with any serious consideration:

          Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, takes what he calls the “long-term view” of climate change. “In billions of years,” he said in 2011, “the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future.”

          The former New Mexico governor did acknowledge that humans are making the world warmer in the near term, too—but he doesn’t think the government should do much about it. In the same speech, he denounced “cap-and-trade taxation,” said we “should be building new coal-fired plants,” and argued that the “trillions” of dollars it would cost to combat climate change would be better spent on other priorities.

        • Ike, let’s cut to the chase here. I’m saying, clearly, that Gary Johnson would make a better president than either Hillary of Trump. All arguments about no chance, wasted vote, Aleppo, or Libertarian platform aside, are you saying that either Clinton or Trump would be a better choice?

  • “Trump argued on Monday night that businessmen like himself can do whatever it takes to get rich, so long as they don’t violate the law. He essentially rejected the proposition that people should live by a moral code that goes beyond what is mandated by the state.” Atlantic

    • This sounds like a gross generalization to me.
      Not you personally, but there is a class of people who think they have found some insightful truth when they pull this stunt.

      I recall that he said something like:
      – moving in to buy property low when the market is down is good business
      – not paying income (or little?) taxes is smart
      (I think there was one other)

      If you buy high this somehow proves your are living by some kind of higher morality?
      And if you are legally not paying taxes, or a reduced amount, there is a good reason for this, including investment tax credit or contributions to non-profit.
      The deductions are put in there because they have some desired positive effect.

      When someone jumps up into generality land the argument never seems to end.
      It is better to point to the specific statements to which you find offense.

  • “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

  • Imagine that you were illegally keeping top secret documents on an unsecured email server in your basement
    this is the cyberworld equivalent of putting a pack of top secret documents on the sidewalk in front of your your house
    Imagine that congress finds out and subpoenas them
    imagine you refuse
    you say they can have the ones that are not personal, and you delete 30,000 of them and give them the rest
    imagine that you say that the rest are just about yoga classes and so on
    but you not not only delete them, you use a special disc bleaching program to make sure they cannot be recovered
    and then imagine that you smash all the (13?) smart phones that may have been used to send some of the emails
    and then imagine that you stand up at a debate, grinning, arguing that you are fit to be president of the US

    You could not make this stuff up!

    • Add to that little Barry Hussein uses the re-tread excuse that he only found about Waldo’s private server through news reports. And if you believe that I have some choice Kahala swamp land for sale. It turns out he was communicating with Waldo on the private server using a pseudonym to hide his identity. It was not widely reported and it has since been placed in the memory hole.

  • I wonder how Nielsen decides how many people watched the debate on this day and age. I recorded it from three different networks. Does that count as thee people? What about the people who arranged it online? Were they counted?

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