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The Trump and Biden shows last night were strikingly different. But I’m not sure who benefited from the exercise.

By Lisa Lerer

Good morning, and welcome to a special dueling-town-hall edition of On Politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host. Stay tuned for Giovanni Russonello’s Poll Watch this afternoon.

It was “Washington Week” vs. “WWE Raw.” “The West Wing” vs. “Breaking Bad.” “This Old House” vs. “The Real Housewives.” “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” vs. “You Can’t Do That on Television.” (With only metaphorical slime, of course.)

OK, you get the idea, I’m sure. Last night, we watched two very different shows.

On NBC, an aggrieved president perched on a stool, fought with the moderator, refused to rebuke dangerous conspiracy theories and spewed misinformation about a deadly pandemic.

A click away on ABC, Joe Biden offered detailed if long-winded policy discussions as he issued calls for national unity to a deeply divided nation.

These weren’t just different channels; they were different worlds.

Sure, some news was committed. Mr. Biden promised George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he would clarify his views before Election Day on expanding the size of the Supreme Court, a notable pivot for a candidate who has refused to get into the issue.

And in an unusual choice, Mr. Biden engaged in the theoretical exercise of what would happen if he lost the election. A candidate’s standard answer to that question is, “I’m not going to lose.”

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