Media Crushes O’Rourke for Debate Showing: ‘I Think He’s Done’

'He got his butt kicked' by Castro

Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke was crushed by media onlookers for his debate performance Wednesday night.

"I think that may have been Beto's last hurrah," CNN's Van Jones said afterwards. "I think he's done."

An MSNBC panel Thursday morning unanimously called him the loser of the first Democratic primary debate, with University of Texas professor Victoria DeFrancesco saying, "Something's going to have to change for the next debate, or he's not going to survive much longer."

The pronouncements were bipartisan, with former Hillary Clinton adviser Phillipe Reines saying he came out "on the losing side," former Speaker Newt Gingrich calling him "probably the big loser," and GOP pollster Frank Luntz saying he would pick him if he had to pick a loser.

A writer at the liberal magazine Esquire quipped he "spent the evening looking as though he had to be tied down to keep from floating out the door." Another MSNBC commentator said he looked "nervous."

"Beto probably did the worst as far as performance," progressive commentator Rashad Richey said on MSNBC.

"Beto O'Rourke, I think, did not have a good evening," liberal columnist Eugene Robinson said on MSNBC. "I thought his answers were mushy."

O'Rourke took fire for coming out on the short end of a tense exchange with fellow Texan Julián Castro, who scolded him to do his "homework" and support repealing a law criminalizing unauthorized border crossings. O'Rourke, so adored by the press in his failed bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), got blasted for seeming unsure of himself and hesitant to punch back.

"I really think that he lost big time," Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said. "He had nothing to say as soon as he was engaged."

"[Castro] went after Beto O'Rourke directly in a way that Beto O'Rourke wasn't prepared for, I don't think," MSNBC host Willie Geist said.

"When Castro basically told O'Rourke he didn't know what he was talking about, not sure O'Rourke had an answer there," MSNBC's Steve Kornacki said.

CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) said the exchange was "devastating" for O'Rourke, and Jones said he "got his butt kicked" on an issue that's central to his candidacy.

CNN analyst Harry Enten also had withering words, saying he "did in no way dispel the idea that he is … a shallow candidate."

For what it's worth, though, O'Rourke awarded his own debate performance an "A" during a CNN interview.