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Mark Meadows told family members not to make facial expressions or 'even blink' during the first presidential debate because cameras would 'catch' anyone tied to Trump 'doing something bad': book

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  • Mark Meadows told his family at the first presidential debate not to make "poor expressions."

  • In a new book, he recalled saying cameras would "catch" guests tied to Trump "doing something bad."

  • Meadows criticized Biden's debate performance but said Trump didn't "put his best foot forward."

Throughout President Donald Trump's tenure, a suspicion of the press was a defining quality of many members of his inner circle.

Trump, who had been a media fixture for decades, frequently created tension with journalists, leading to many sharp exchanges with them at the White House.

Before the first presidential debate between Trump and Joe Biden, then the Democratic nominee, in September 2020, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, had the administration's perception of media bias in mind when he spoke with members of his family in the audience, Meadows said in "The Chief's Chief," released on Tuesday.

Mark Meadows
Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, at the presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020.AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Meadows invited his son, Blake, and his daughter-in-law, Phoebe, to the debate in Cleveland, which was moderated by the Fox News host Chris Wallace.

Meadows' family members marveled at the numerous cameras focused on multiple angles in the room, and while he was happy that they would be able to take in such an experience, he had a clear warning for them, he said.

"Be careful," he recalled telling his son. "These cameras love to catch family members making poor expressions. So, no expressions. None."

Meadows then looped in his daughter-in-law. "They're going to be trying to catch anyone affiliated with President Trump doing something bad," he said. "So be very careful about the way your face looks. You, too, Phoebe. Don't even blink."

"Other than that, relax and enjoy yourself," Meadows said he added.

The debate was one of the more raucous affairs of the 2020 campaign — Trump repeatedly cut Biden off, and Wallace lamented the deterioration of what was supposed to be a public exchange of ideas.

"I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did," Wallace said shortly after the debate.

The chaotic 90-minute debate featured a flurry of insults, and Biden scolded the then-president at one point, saying, "Would you shut up, man?"

In his book, Meadows said the first debate was not the best showcase for Trump but repeatedly ridiculed Biden's performance.

"For the most part, the debate was a poor performance by both candidates, especially Joe Biden. He flip-flopped on positions, fumbled for words, and trotted out the same boring policy positions he'd been pushing for years," he wrote.

"But President Trump did not put his best foot forward, either," Meadows added. "Rather than allowing Biden to stumble his way through the debate in front of a live audience ... the president interrupted him constantly."

Meadows said Trump went after Biden "with everything he had."

"It was like watching Muhammad Ali step into the ring with an eighty-year-old man," he wrote.

While conservatives in the media largely praised Trump's performance, a group of swing-state voters who were part of a focus group led by the GOP pollster Frank Luntz panned him.

After the debate, Biden surged to a 14-point lead among registered voters in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. In that poll, 58% of respondents said they thought Biden had a better temperament, while 26% said the same of Trump.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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