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 TapperCarson calls for local leaders to 'condemn vandalization of statues,' 'dismantle autonomous zones' Officials couldn't reach Trump on golf course to delete retweet of video showing man chanting 'white power': report Democratic officials, governors push for nationwide mask mandate as administration defends state-by-state approach MORE, Dana BashDana BashDuckworth says Trump's Mt. Rushmore speech showed 'his priorities are all wrong' FDA commissioner declines to confirm Trump claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are 'harmless' Pro-Trump super PAC ads attack Biden's economic record in 'blue wall' states MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonLoeffler doubles down against BLM, calls movement 'anti-Semitic' amid continued WNBA blowback NASCAR's Bubba Wallace: 'relieved' FBI investigation found 'this wasn't what we feared it was' Bubba Wallace dismisses FBI findings: 'It's a straight-up noose' 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 SandersBiden wins Louisiana primary Oh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump glosses over virus surge during Florida trip MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Pharma pricing is a problem, but antitrust isn't the (only) solution MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDonald Trump Jr. to self-publish book 'Liberal Privilege' before GOP convention Tom Price: Here's how we can obtain more affordable care The Memo: Democrats feel rising tide in Florida MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Senators raise concerns over Facebook's civil rights audit Biden's marijuana plan is out of step with public opinion 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 TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' 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