It was a debate that was at many times more about the tenor and tone of the campaign than the issues, where many tuned in to see how Donald Trump would respond to a leaked videotape from 2005 in which he appeared to advocate and admit to sexual assault. Half the evening played out on social media, with much of America watching with one eye on the stage and the other on instant public commentary flooding across Facebook and Twitter.
The firestorm began before the debate with Trump calling an unusual press panel with three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct. As news broke of the unprecedented move, some criticized it as a transparent ploy to deflect attention from Trump’s own problems with women. Readers of the news mocked the effort roundly:
@nytimes making these women relive whatever allegedly happened 20 years is preposterous. He did it not for them, but for himself as ALWAYS
— Simone (@simonecamille) October 10, 2016
Trump also received scathing criticism for the way he handled a question about the leaked videotape. “This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family and I apologized to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk,” he said. Current and former professional athletes expressed their dissatisfaction with Trump’s response. NBA player Kendall Marshall scoffed at Trump’s characterization before taking Trump to task on the matter of consent:
PSA: sexual advances without consent is NOT locker room talk.
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) October 10, 2016
Chris Conley, a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, tweeted that he is “in locker rooms every day” but that he never hears men talk the way Trump alleged they do:
Have I been in every locker room? No. But the guys I know and respect don't talk like that. They talk about girls but not like that. Period.
— Chris Conley (@_flight17_) October 10, 2016
Star Trek actor and LGBT activist George Takei also weighed in:
When Trump says it's just "locker room talk," he's defending the very culture that normalizes sexual assaults on women.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 10, 2016
Trump veered away from his comments on the tapes midway through his response to launch into a discussion about ISIS and violent threats on American lives. “There’s more important issues to worry about,” he said. Trump’s dismissal drew the ire of writer Rachel Simon, who noted that according to RAINN, “one out of every six American women has suffered an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime” and that
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