CNN roasted over debate production, format: 'A disservice to serious people'

CNN faced backlash for its first primary debate of the 2020 campaign season, with members of the media comparing its production to a sporting event or movie trailer and others lamenting the time spent to kick off the event.

Journalists noted that the event started on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. with an introduction video, a commercial break and opening statements. The first question to one of the ten candidates was not asked until 8:23 p.m., however.

Other journalists said the debate format did not allow enough time for detailed explanations regarding complicated policy issues, while others noted a lack of questions about foreign policy or veterans affairs.

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The debate on Tuesday night was the first of two events with a total of 20 Democrats facing off at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Moderators for both events are Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCNN's Jake Tapper spars with Trump on Twitter: 'Utter nonsense' Biden says he has not been tested for coronavirus: I've had 'no symptoms' Biden says Democratic convention should not be canceled amid pandemic MORE, Dana BashDana BashCNN's Tapper scolds Biden for not coughing into his elbow during live interview The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars McConnell defends GOP crafting stimulus plan without Democrats MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonDo people think ill of Jeff Sessions merely based on the sound of his voice? CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump Yang congratulates Romney for 'voting his conscience and character' in convicting Trump MORE.

Tapper and Bash's performance drew unusual praise from Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.

The first Democratic debate on June 26 from Miami was watched by a total of 15.3 million viewers on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, matching the number of viewers who tuned into the first Democratic debate of the 2015-2016 primary season on CNN in October 2015.

Tuesday night's debate on CNN, which included some candidates who are in the top tier based on polling, notably Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Poll: Trump, Biden in dead heat in 2020 matchup Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Poll: Trump, Biden in dead heat in 2020 matchup Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging MORE (D-Calif.), is expected to draw a smaller audience than the first debate last month, primarily due to competition from the broadcast networks. Biden and Harris will likely be the focus on Wednesday night in Detroit.

ABC's "The Bachelorette" aired its finale on Tuesday night, while NBC's offered up a new episode of "America's Got Talent," which has rated well over the years since launching in 2006.

The most-watched primary debate in history occurred in August 2015, when more than 24 million people tuned in to Fox News for the event featuring Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE's first debate as a candidate in Cleveland.

--This report was updated at 2:23 p.m.

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First night of CNN Democratic debate draws 8.7M viewers