Friday final reads

"Trump is the first to brag that ratings go up whenever he's on TV, but even he might be taken aback by this number," predicts CNNMoney's Tom Kludt of the fact that early numbers suggest last night's GOP debate drew a record audience of 24 million (at 5,000+ shares and counting). "The debate ratings were uuuge, UUUUGE, bigger than they've ever been (in a primary)," tweets Talking Points Memo's Tierney Sneed. "Craziest aspect of Fox debate ratings: '7.9 million were in the key advertising demographic of 25 to 54 year olds,' reacts Popular Science's Carl Franzen. "We may never see a primary debate with this many viewers ever again. And this is August (!)," realizes MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin.

NYT's Frank Bruni also weighs in on this foxy, rowdy Republican debate. "Here's the rub: Fox News did what only Fox News could have done. Any other network would be accused of pro-Dem bias," summarizes David Crow with the Financial TimesMichael Barbaro thinks Donald Trump stole the show with "virtually nonexistent" preparations. "Not since Reagan in 1980 have worlds of entertainment and presidential politics become so intimately interlaced," Barbaro writes. Benjamin Terris concludes that means that for Santorum and others not in the top ten, there's nothing left but to "grin and bear it. (And be a little bitter.)" At Mother Jones, Tim Murphy marvels, "Continuously impressed by the extent to which campaigns are just giant bonfires for media $$." Here's two more looks at the debate. Oh, and apparently Trump late-night angry-tweeted Megyn Kelly, and it was epic. "The fact that acting like this isn't a complete and total barrier to competing for POTUS is the saddest thing," laments Texas Observer's Andrea Grimes.

Before we go on to the next topic, however, let's fact-check those candidates' statements, too.

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