Donald Trump's treatment of women dominates debate tweeting

Technically Incorrect: The second presidential debate was rough -- for the viewers, that is. But one issue incited the biggest Twitter reaction.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Enlarge Image

He's a gentleman, don't you know?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

It's not every Sunday night you see a tanned hero promising to jail the Devil.

The second presidential debate was, sadly, no ordinary Sunday night.

It was a night when Donald Trump attempted to deflect the notion -- peddled by, well, himself -- that because he was a star, he could just walk up to women and kiss them. Oh, and grab them by their genitalia.

You could have wondered how the debate was going just by watching the Twitter trending barometer. "Locker Room Talk" dominated for a while. This was Trump explaining away his crudity by saying it was just locker room talk.

No, of course he'd never sexually assault anyone, he said. This was just talk.

But for all the attention on Twitter, it's data people love for a final analysis.

In the end, Twitter says more tweets were typed on the subject of Trump's treatment of women than about any area of policy.

Watching it through squinting eyes, it was clear that Trump wanted to, for once, overshadow an aspect of himself by claiming that Hillary Clinton's husband had done far worse.

He seemed to suggest that whatever he said toward women was nothing when compared to what ISIS has done toward the world.

It was an interesting leap of faith, if not logic.

It might have been odd for some to hear Trump say how much he respects women and then see him turn his back on his opponent, repeatedly refer to Clinton as "she," and even attempt to physically intimidate her by invading her space.

If you've just been heard worldwide claiming that you're free to sexually assault a woman, perhaps your body language ought to reflect your insistence that no, no, no one respects women more than you do.

Twitter, though, likes to divide time and life into moments.

Its numbers said that the most tweeted moment was Trump's disagreement with his own running mate -- who seemed about to run away from him over the weekend -- Mike Pence. Trump doesn't favor using military force in Syria. Which is odd, as his campaign has been all about his alleged forcefulness. Pence does favor military force.

Some saw this as a way for Trump to get back at Pence for not supporting him in the locker room.

The second most tweeted moment was Trump claiming he's a gentleman. Nothing says gentleman more than calling your female opponent the Devil and promising that you'll instruct a special prosecutor to look at her email troubles with a view to having her jailed.

That last element was the third most tweeted moment. Trump blithely interrupted Clinton as she said that she was glad he wasn't in charge of the law with a casual: "Because you'd be in jail."

After all the barbs have been tweeted, retweeted and dissected, one of the great deficiencies of Twitter -- even greater than its inability to sell itself -- is that it can't predict entirely what people might do.

What it can tell you is that 64 percent of all the debate tweets were about Trump.

You must decide whether this is a good or bad thing. He likes to attract comment. It's not always exactly glowing comment.

This debate was, perhaps, little different than watching the candidates' Twitter feeds.

Clinton was more scripted, stilted and playing not to lose. Trump was more aggressive, incoherent, unpleasant, jarring, absurd and just generally sniffy.

How much the debate -- or Twitter itself -- matters is, well, up for debate.

It's a lot of wind, much of which blows by.

I fear there are few voters who are genuinely undecided, just as there are few voters who entirely believe what either of these candidates are saying.

The most disappointed might be those on the Republican side who hoped that Trump would utterly implode. Having held his own, it's clear that he'll be there all the way to November 8.

Which will make for some amusing tweeting and the emergence, no doubt, of some more edifying tapes.

And the rest of the world watches and thinks: "Thank the Lord this isn't us."