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 TapperSteyer says 'grassroots organizing' in Nevada, South Carolina got him on debate stage Pentagon chief says he 'didn't see' intelligence suggesting Iran planned to attack four US embassies Ex-White House press, military officials call on Grisham to restart regular briefings MORE, Dana BashDana BashEvelyn Yang shares that she was sexually assaulted by doctor Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Republicans attack Pelosi for impeachment stalemate MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonAnderson Cooper, Andy Cohen paired for third straight CNN's New Year Eve CNN's Lemon stunned by 'stupid, juvenile' Trump-Thanos meme: 'Are you people insane?' Biden urges senators to have 'courage' for impeachment trial 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, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll Warren calls for Brazil to drop charges against Glenn Greenwald MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report Biden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report California Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' 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 TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation 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