Satire/Odd News

City & State’s Great Debate Watch/Don’t Watch Guide

How to watch – or not watch – Thursday’s presidential debate

People watch a broadcast of the final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on October 22, 2020.

People watch a broadcast of the final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on October 22, 2020. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Presidential debates – much like this cycle’s candidates – have seen brighter days. We’ve come a long way from the gravitas of the first presidential debates to the point where each candidate will be subjected to having their microphone cut off if they fail to adhere to time limits. 

Now, with the first debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump upon us, you are forgiven for wanting to consume copious cocktails to chase away thoughts of how we got here – and where we’ll find ourselves after November. 

City & State has your great debate guide to get you through the night however you may see fit. 

Bingo card

Given the age of the candidates, it’s only fitting that we come up with a debate watch game that serves their demographic. Here’s City & State PA’s own debate night bingo card for you to follow along with: 

Photo credit: simon2579, Andre_BR, Theerakit via Getty Images

Drinking game

The current state of affairs may have people reaching for a distraction during the debate. Well, look no further than a drinking game to (responsibly) make consumption of the debate and your liquid of choice a bit more enjoyable. Listen closely during the debate and pour one out for our country along the way: 

Take a sip when… 

  • Either places “blame” on another party
  • Israel, Hamas or Gaza is mentioned
  • Trump says something was “rigged,” “a shame,” or a “witch hunt”
  • Biden mumbles the end of a sentence

Take a shot when…

  • Trump mentions Hunter Biden
  • Biden says billionaires or companies need to “pay their fair share”
  • Trump says “many people”
  • Biden says “The fact of the matter is”
  • Any of the following is said: felon, woke, crooked, corrupt

Worthy alternatives

You’re better off watching these more informative debates and discussions as a form of alternative programming:

Best of Enemies - This is a 2016 documentary about the series of debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley held during the 1968 presidential election campaign between Republican incumbent Richard Nixon and Democratic challenger Hubert H. Humphrey. To watch this is to get a glimpse of a very different America, where erudite, outspoken adversaries can sit down and (more or less) civilly debate issues upon which they sharply diverge.

Gilmore Girls Season 3 Episode 16: During a public forum broadcast live on C-SPAN, Rory’s frenemy Paris has a very public meltdown over getting rejected from Harvard. Today’s example of how C-Span is one of the best long-running reality shows on TV.

The American President: This 1995 film by one of Hollywood’s most outspokenly liberal directors, Rob Reiner, features Michael Douglas delivering a clapback for the ages against his opponent as he explains the importance of the office and challenges him to an anywhere/anytime debate.

The West Wing: Two debates spring to mind: From “Game On,” the fourth season’s sixth episode, which blends behind-the-scenes frenzy with the presidential debate itself, the Season Seven episode “The Debate” hews more closely to a traditional presidential debate structure, but even the performances of Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda can’t come close to the impact of Martin Sheen’s President Bartlett in full bloom. 

Prepare your fact-checks

Candidates are expected to tout accomplishments and trade barbs about their time in office compared to that of their opponent. Here are a few facts and figures that you should know before the debate gets started: 

Inflation and Jobs: 

Each economic talking point must be taken with a grain of salt – along with the multitude of factors that impact a nation’s economy. Trump may boast about the economy under his administration and how gasoline fell as low as $1.77 a gallon, according to the Associated Press. But, of course, that price dip happened during pandemic lockdowns and the global health crisis halted drivers worldwide. 

Biden can brag about the current state of the nation’s economy – the World Bank recently estimated the U.S. economy would grow 2.6% this year, way better than the 0.7% for the 20 countries on the euro currency or 0.7% for Japan. At the same time, however, the full picture is that Biden inherited a pandemic economy where unemployment was historically high. After staggering job losses early in the pandemic, the national job recovery began under Trump, and continued under Biden when he took office.

Immigration and Crime:

Trump regularly spreads false claims – without evidence – that other countries are emptying their prisons and mental institutions to send to the U.S. Trump has also said an influx of immigrants is causing a crime surge in the U.S., but statistics actually show violent crime is on the way down. 

FBI shows violent crime trending down but property crime could be spiking. A crime report released on June 11 compared January-March 2024 with the same period in 2023, during which overall violent crime was down 15% – with murder and rape both down 26%, robbery down 18% and 13% fewer aggravated assaults. Meanwhile, property crimes such as vehicle theft saw a 15% drop compared to the first three months of 2023, despite increasing by more than 7% in 2022. 


Trump continues to push baseless election fraud claims and say without evidence that he won Pennsylvania and the presidential election in 2020. 

An AP investigation found fewer than 475 instances of confirmed voter fraud across six battleground states — nowhere near the magnitude required to sway the outcome of the race.