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 TapperLawmakers spar over upcoming Sondland testimony Murphy: Sondland has to decide if his loyalty is to America or Trump House Intelligence Republican: Trump Yovanovitch tweet 'not witness intimidation' MORE, Dana BashDana BashMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Charlize Theron: We didn't want the politics to overshadow 'Bombshell' Human Rights Campaign head pushes back against idea that Buttigieg's sexuality is a barrier among black voters MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonCNN's Don Lemon: I'm not some partisan liberal Democrat Conservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations CNN LGBTQ town hall interrupted by protesters 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 SandersFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFive takeaways from the Democratic debate Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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 TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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