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.
Debate going the full CNN: action-movie trailer, election-night bass 'n drums ... now a color guard, national anthem, and don't forget opening statements.— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) July 30, 2019
Problem: Too many candidates, not enough time.— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) July 30, 2019
CNN Solution: Burn 10 minutes over-produced pageantry, immediately take a commercial break, kill another 12 minutes with needless opening statements, ask first actual question @ 8:23pm.
Other than that off to a great start.
Well obviously the thing that should get canned for the next debate is that ridiculous intro video for America’s Ninja Warriors.— Richard Wolffe (@richardwolffedc) July 30, 2019
CNN isn't using our time well in this Democratic debate. Eleven minutes have passed, and no candidate has said anything except, "Nice to meet you." #DemDebate— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) July 30, 2019
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.
Why are these response windows so small? Let the people talk.— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) July 30, 2019
I simply cannot watch. Why? Not because they're Democrats but because our SYSTEM ruins the best. This process is a disgrace and a disservice to all serious people. Shame on everyone.— kathleenparker (@kathleenparker) July 30, 2019
12. The problem is not the moderators, it’s the format.— Yashar Ali (@yashar) July 30, 2019
Did the DNC agree to this format?
Hey maybe one question about foreign policy, the wars we're fighting, helping veterans? #CNNDebate— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) July 30, 2019
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 TapperFrederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment 'inhumane' WHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed MORE, Dana BashDana BashManchin suggests pausing talks on .5 trillion package until 2022: report House is no easy road for Biden, Democrats on .5T package Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Manchin: key energy provision of spending package 'makes no sense' MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonBiden's candidness can get him in trouble Tucker Carlson says he lies when 'I'm really cornered or something' CNN's Chris Cuomo taking birthday vacation as calls for brother's resignation grow 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 SandersIn Washington, the road almost never taken Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn Washington, the road almost never taken Senate poised to battle over Biden's pick of big bank critic Treasury says more rental aid is reaching tenants, preventing evictions MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTwo 'View' hosts test positive for coronavirus ahead of Harris interview Rep. Karen Bass to run for mayor of Los Angeles: report Biden taps big bank skeptic to for top regulatory post 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 TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE's first debate as a candidate in Cleveland.
--This report was updated at 2:23 p.m.
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