Opinion: Oxford Stories reporters share thoughts on last presidential debate

Presidential Debate, Hempstead, New York, USA - 26 Sep 2016

The last presidential debate was held Wednesday, Oct. 19. Oxford Stories reporters were asked to watch the debate and share their observations. This is the first presidential election many of them will vote in.


Skyler Crane.

Skyler Crane, 19, is a UM sophomore double majoring in journalism with an emphasis in print and a specialization in public relations and general studies focusing on Japanese, English and professional writing.

He describes the recent debate as a “political disaster” “Where Americans retained the belief that the political figures would use the evening’s political debate for positively stimulating conversation,” he wrote, “all the debate’s audience received was a repeat of the first two political battlefields, an extended session of mutually-shared hostility and unpleasantness.”

Crane said the debate demonstrated the polarization felt between the two candidates. “Referring to Clinton, Trump boldly said that she is, ‘Such a nasty woman.’ He also said throughout the debate that her campaign was, ‘sleazy’ and ‘crooked.'”

Crane said Clinton “did not strive for the moral high ground either.” “This behavior displayed the unprofessional atmosphere amongst the candidates,” he said, “yet moderator Christopher Wallace’s expanded that by projecting himself into the discussion. He interrupted the candidates and maintained a more active role than a moderator should possess.”

Crane said he believes the third debate had little substance other than as entertainment programming.

“The center of attention was not the discussion of policies, but rather Trump and Clinton trying to defame and discredit one another to as great a degree as they could,” he said. “The candidates’ attitudes have fully infected this election year’s atmosphere, tainting it with mudslinging and barbed vocabulary. What effect that will have on voters is uncertain, yet the immensity of that effect, whatever it may be, is sure to be massive.”

Nashville native Anne Merrill Jones is a UM sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism.

“Alongside the majority of this country’s voting population, I have found myself constantly keeping up with and analyzing many of the debates and moments of conflict that have arisen between the two presidential candidates for 2016,” she said. “This will be the first election I will be allowed to vote in, and I take great pride in that, but as the months continue to pass, I begin to question whether or not either of the candidates are deserving of my support.”

Throughout the debate, Jones said she noticed how the two candidates interacted with and interrupted each other.

“I know it’s been said before, but I truly do feel as if I’m watching two high-schoolers bicker in the hallway over the same boy whenever I tune into the debates,” Jones said. “The emphasis that they each put on tearing down the other’s character and campaign, to me, far outweighs their actual desires for the future.”

Jones said she’s nervous about the election. “I’ve always been nervous about finally getting to use my voice within this country, knowing I am one small person – but at the root of it all – my small voice does matter,” she said. “But I’m even more nervous now. I thought, by the end of the debates, that I would have a better idea, but I am truly lost. There are some — even if they are slim — redeeming qualities for both, but I wouldn’t trust either with the codes to atomic bombs or guiding our country into war.”

FullSizeRender-2 2Jackson native Hunter Ransom, 19, is a UM sophomore majoring in political science with a minor in journalism. He plans to work for the government or attend law school.

“A lot of time was, as usual, spent with the candidates taking stabs at each other,” Ransom said. “Trump saying Hillary is a liar and should not be able to run, and Hillary putting a spotlight on Trump’s sexual harassment allegations. Other times, the two actually had good points about the major issues brought up by the moderator.”

IMG_A3216Georgia native Gracie Snyder is a UM sophomore and broadcast journalism major.

“After watching this third and final debate of the election season, I can now see why people are concerned not only about the nature of politics in general, but also about the unity of this country,” Snyder said. “Going into the debate with a hopeful, yet somewhat skeptical, spirit, I was pleasantly surprised to see the composure with which the debate began.

“As Chris Wallace began posing questions to topics of each candidate’s Supreme Court appointments, their respective views on the Second Amendment, and their views on abortion, it was refreshing to see both candidates begin answering the questions posed in a thought-provoking manner, instead of the previously used blame-game style. Whether the candidates were truthful in their answers is another story, but at least the debate was headed in a more poised direction.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t last, Snyder said. 

She said: “The ferocity and savagery of this year’s presidential run makes me wonder:

  • “Why does politics have to be synonymous with evilness and dishonesty?
  • “Why are people so embroiled in stating their own opinions that they’ve forgotten the basic art of human communication – listening to one another?
  • “Why do we as people continue to give platforms to the animosity and loathing expressed in debates?
  • “Why do we continue to address others with the exact emotion that we don’t want to receive ourselves – hate?

“My hope for this country,” Snyder said, “is that we do not abandon the reality of ‘loving one another as we want others to love us’ and that the notion of respect has not been ‘widely debunked.'”

image1Alec Keyzer-Andre is a UM sophomore studying broadcast journalism who plans to become a video editor or script writer. He said he’s always been interested in how media and writing go hand-in-hand and how the media can influence and shape society.

“Overall, this debate was much more organized, and the candidates were much more kind to one another,” he said. “Trump did a great job focusing on the real issues and bringing up controversial issues surrounding Clinton at appropriate times. Likewise, Clinton made very strong points and criticism towards Trump against his policies.”

Madison Hyatt said both candidates answered questions regarding their stance on each platform effectively, for the most part, but she believes Clinton won the debate. 

“Although I am not a Clinton supporter, I believe she is more composed and effective in the way she responds to questions,” Hyatt said. “Trump often made derogatory comments while Clinton was speaking, such as calling her a ‘nasty woman,’ which I believe was totally inappropriate for a presidential setting.

“Although Trump was more composed than usual for the debate, his performance was not enough to beat Clinton. According to a CBS News report, 49 percent of voters say Clinton won, while 39 percent support Trump. A CNN poll shows that Clinton beat Trump by 13 points.”

IMG_0209Elijah Coombs is an English major from Washington state.

“With so many different allegations surrounding their claims, the media has not done a good job fact-checking for the American people,” Coombs said. “Instead, the news seems to be just reporting their claims and asking each other if its true. This debate was scarce and uninformative in revealing information to helping the American people choose their next president.”

Amanda Haley is a journalism major. “Much of the debate was the two going after each other and trying to make the other candidate look worse,” Haley said. “Viewers saw not much more than the cruel reality of the election, and some may have seen the immaturity of the debate.

“Each candidate showed their hatred of one another very clearly, similar to that of siblings, young ones. With many bold statements said, this debate will definitely leave you wondering ‘What is best?'”

New Hampshire native Owen Howland, 19, is a UM sophomore studying broadcast journalism and business.

“Clinton and Trump clearly have different views of every controversial world issue,” Howland wrote. “Each of them tried to catch the other in a lie, but when this happens, no one knows who to believe. They both called each other ‘puppets’ at one point, and the roast ended with the same word it started with.

“There is a lot of wasted time during these debates of arguing that leads nowhere. The heated arguments need more facts in order for the audience to buy what they’re saying. But, all in all, the debates are always entertaining.”




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