'Chaotic' Trump-Biden Debate Exposes Cracks in U.S. Democracy: Iran Media

Iranian state media has characterized the first U.S. presidential debate for the 2020 election as a chaotic affair that raised questions about the integrity of American democracy.

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden went head to head in Ohio, Cleveland, on Tuesday night in the first televised debate of the campaign.

Moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace, the debate was a vicious and messy affair punctuated by personal attacks and hamstrung by the candidates regularly breaking the rules—particularly Trump, who constantly spoke over Biden.

Trump's presidency has handed America's rivals an unprecedented opportunity to malign U.S. democracy and paint America as a destabilizing, isolated and untrustworthy foe.

Lawmakers, journalists and experts have all noted that foreign meddling in U.S. elections is primarily designed to undermine American democracy and national cohesion, regardless of who ends up in the Oval Office.

State media in countries like Russia, China, and Iran have and will continue to cover the 2020 election from this standpoint. On Wednesday, for example, Iranian state media echoed much of the debate coverage from the U.S. in decrying the incoherent and acrimonious contest.

The Mehr News Agency—owned by the regime's Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization—published a roundup of the debate, saying it had "spiraled into a chaotic clash."

Mehr said the contest featured a "chaotic series of exchanges, with the U.S. president repeatedly speaking over his Democratic rival and the moderator struggling to maintain control the time of debate."

Elsewhere, Press TV—affiliated with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting—said the first debate "raises doubts on U.S. election integrity." The headline appeared to be referring to Trump's refusal to commit to honoring the election result, plus his repeated claims—without any evidence to support them—that mail-in voting leads to electoral fraud.

Iran is among the nations that intelligence officials have accused of trying to meddle in the 2020 election.

Trump's presidency has been difficult for Tehran, with the president pulling out of the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—colloquially known as the Iran nuclear deal—reimposing a raft of economic sanctions, and seeking to isolate Iran diplomatically and with new regional troop deployments.

The Iranian regime has remained stubborn, refusing to agree to new nuclear deal talks and claiming it can survive the American sanctions push—while also appealing to both Washington and the international community for the measures to be lifted.

Biden has committed to re-entering the JCPOA, though has vowed "hard-nosed" diplomacy to rein in Tehran's regional influence and ballistic missile program.

Most experts believe a Biden win would be welcomed in Tehran, where the regime is struggling with the economic effects of sanctions, combined with the dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran, 2020 election, Donald Trump, Joe Biden
Television screens airing the first presidential debate are seen at Walters Sports Bar on September 29, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/Getty