‘Biden stumbles, Trump lies’: How the global media reacted to the presidential debate

Members of the media work during the first presidential debate with US President Joe Biden and former US President Donald Trump in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

China: ‘Starkly different visions’ of America

China’s CGTN, the English-language service of state-run China Global Television Network, said: “Biden started hesitantly and Trump answered steadily in a halting clash.” Accusations of lies and that each of them was the worst ever U.S. president, were rife, the outlet said.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post said the two “presented starkly different visions for America’s place in the world,” and that it was a “high-stakes debate.” Before it kicked off, China’s state-backed tabloid Global Times said it was expected to be “like a reality show.”

India: ‘Democrats in full-blown panic’

The Times of India led its story with concerns from Democrats about Biden’s performance, with the headline reading: “‘We are f***ed’: Democrats in full-blown panic over Joe Biden’s debate performance.” Biden delivered a “delivered a shaky, halting performance,” it said, while “Trump battered him with a series of often false attacks.”

Elsewhere, India Today said Biden “stammered and fumbled” multiple times, while describing Trump’s performance as “forceful and aggressive.”

U.K.: ‘Biden struggles … Trump lies’

In the U.K., the Guardian pointed to issues with both Biden and Trump at the debate, headlining its story: “Biden struggles to land lines as Trump lies in first presidential debate.” Many of Trump’s replies to straightforward questions had little to do with the topic at hand, the paper said, and he made frequent false claims which were not fact-checked by the moderators. Biden, meanwhile, “frequently struggled to complete his thoughts.”

The Times of London said Biden’s re-election campaign was “plunged into crisis” following the debate and that the current President’s responses to questions were “meandering and muddled,” while Trump’s were “more assured and disciplined.”

Meanwhile, the BBC suggested Biden struggled with Trump’s attacks, titling its live blog of the debate: “Biden stumbles in first presidential debate as Trump avoids key questions.” Biden struggled repeatedly and Trump repeated falsehoods, it said, adding that the debate was “marked by personal attacks.”

Germany: ‘True losers … are the Americans’

Germany’s broadcaster ZDF described the debate as “more civilized” but “more charged” than in 2020, adding that Trump had a better start, but Biden caught up later on, according to a CNBC translation. At first, Biden did not appear very agile and hesitated, it said, but added that his tone was “somewhat surprisingly” as aggressive and sharp as Trump’s.

On individual topics, Biden had “clear words” for Trump when it came to abortion, but things got “uncomfortable” for him when it came to immigration — while Trump tried to dodge questions about the January 2021 Capitol Hill riot.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, meanwhile, titled one of its stories: “Joe Biden’s bad evening,” saying that even though his answers had more substance than Trump’s, Biden’s verbal stumbling raised concerns. In another story, the newspaper summarized the debate: “Biden disgraces himself, Trump wastes his chance, but the true losers of the first TV debate in the U.S. election campaigns are the Americans.”

France: ‘Uneven’ performance

English-language French news organization France24 led its headline on the debate with: “Biden stumbles, Trump lies.” Biden’s performance was “uneven,” while Trump “rattled off a series of attacks that included numerous falsehoods.”

Also in France, Le Monde described Biden as “faltering” and Trump as “forceful.” Biden was “sometimes halting” but repeatedly tried to confront Trump, who it said was “bombastic.” Overall, it characterized the debate as “fiery.”

CNBC has contacted the office of Donald Trump and the Democratic Party for comment on the global response to the debate.