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: