Russian media split on who won first U.S. presidential debate

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 2016.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 2016.

Russians closely followed the first U.S. presidential debate on Sept. 26 and its aftermath, with some media organizations questioning the objectivity of the CNN poll naming Clinton the winner.

Most Russian mass media outlets concluded that Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton beat her Republican opponent Donald Trump in the first presidential debate of this U.S. election cycle, held on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

The outlets referred to a post-debate poll by CNN, in which 62 percent of respondents gave the victory in the event to Hillary Clinton, compared with 27 percent for Trump.

Those organizations that did not use the results of the CNN poll in their reporting still named Clinton as the likely winner of the debates’ first round.

“Trump did not look very good against Clinton’s background… She [Clinton] gave an impression of a person who is well prepared and who knows details. And Trump left a very superficial impression and did not look persuasive,” wrote (in Russian) Kommersant in its wrap-up of the event, quoting Kommersant FM host Nataliya Boyevaya.

The publication acknowledged, however, that Trump’s promise to prevent American companies from relocating their production abroad may have appealed to potential voters living in industrial areas of the country.

Popular news website and TV channel challenged the results of the CNN poll, questioning the channel’s methodology. “These numbers are entirely based on answers of CNN’s viewers known for their sympathy to Democratic party,” wrote (in Russian)’s Ilya Ukhov.

The channel ran a lengthy publication explaining why Donald Trump must be viewed as the ultimate winner of the first debate.

“First, Trump appeared objectively more confident, successfully countering Clinton’s predictable attacks… Second, Trump managed to reveal and show Clinton’s connections with Washington’s political establishment, linking his opponent with the key failures of the current administration,” read the article.

Peaceful Trump, aggressive Clinton

Overall, Russian media downplayed the candidates’ rare references to Russia during the debate, with only few publications highlighting Clinton’s “confrontational” attitude to Moscow.

The newspaper Izvestiya criticized Clinton for her readiness to accuse official Moscow as candidates argued about Russia’s alleged role in the recent hacker attacks against the Democratic National Committee by the anonymous hacking group known as Fancy Bear.

“The Democrat [Hillary Clinton] … appeared almost as the main supporter of the anti-Russian policy of the White House… Trump’s unconventionally pacific perception of Russia set him apart from other candidates in the latest election campaigns [in the U.S.], which undoubtedly attracts attention [from Russia] to his character,” wrote (in Russian) Alexei Zabrodin in Izvestiya.

Kremlin comments

Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov explained the high interest of Russians in the upcoming U.S. elections.

“The interest [of the Russians in U.S. presidential race] may largely be explained by the fact that this time, as never before, Russia and Putin are [the race’s] indispensable factors,” Rossiyskaya Gazeta quoted (in Russian) Peskov as saying.

Although Peskov said Moscow does not watch the race “with bated breath,” he said the Kremlin remains attentive to the candidates’ statements.

“We pay attention, especially in some moments, often related to escapades that concern our country,” Peskov said, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Read more: Lavrov: U.S. military does not entirely obey commander-in-chief>>>

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