Shouting match at Mayoral debate drowns out issues

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Tuesday night's Mayoral debate was so contentious, the shouting by one candidate and the boos and catcalls from the audience of partisans often drowned out discussion of the issues.

With Republican Nicole Malliotakis and Independent candidate Bo Dietl in a relentless attack mode, Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced into a defense position, repeatedly accentuating the accomplishments of his first term.

He seemed to hold his ground when Dietl accused the Mayor of turning homelessness into a business by placing the homeless in costly hotels and motels. De Blasio shot back with his plan to build 93 news shelters and pledged to end the use of hotels.

Regarding the Mayors longtime pledge to end income inequality, Malliotakis charged that "his donors got rich while the rest of us remained poor."

Partisans in the audience were rowdy and at points as uncontrollable as Dietl who shouted and interrupted so many times, his microphone was turned off momentarily. He took a beating when a questioner targeted his past tax problems that amounted to a substantial amount of unpaid taxes.

He claimed to have settled everything. After Malliotakis challenged the accuracy of crime statistics that City Hall reports are the lowest, de Blasio accused her of "right wing Republican scare tactics to suggest the statistics are not real."

Moderator Erroll Lewis had a difficult time controlling the candidates and the crowd.

One of the more bizarre moments occurred when Dietl lambasted the Mayor for the wall that's been placed around Gracie Mansion. "Is it the Berlin Wall, is it shielding a criminal enterprise" he continued. The Mayor quickly explained that it was the decision of the NYPD to place the wood fence around the Mayor's residence as a security measure.

The Mayor laced into both of his challengers over their support of President Trump. He attacked Maliotakis who he said "Can't make up your mind about him; that one moment she supports him and the other moment she's critical.

De Blasio made a point of also letting voters know that Dietl also voted for Trump. Dietl responded, "I voted for him and I'm sorry I voted for him."

After the debate, partisans reacted as expected, claiming their respective candidates won the debate. One woman told me the debate was so raucous, it reminded her of a Trump rally and she was disappointed by the behavior of the candidates. In all my years of covering debates, it was one of the most contentious I have ever witnessed.