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 TapperOmar calls out Boebert over anti-Muslim remarks, denies Capitol incident took place Republican Rep. Upton unsure if he'll run again Bass calls 'Black pastors' comment during Arbery trial 'despicable' MORE, Dana BashDana BashDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal GOP governor says McCarthy should condemn Boebert's anti-Muslim remarks Democrats optimistic as social spending bill heads to Senate MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonDon Lemon disagrees with Carville on 'wokeness,' calls defund the police a 'stupid slogan' Chauvin jurors give first interview since guilty verdict Democrats brush off risks of paring down spending package 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 SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan Sanders urges Biden to delay Medicare premium hike linked to Alzheimer's drug MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPfizer CEO says vaccine data for those under 5 could be available by end of year Omicron coronavirus variant found in at least 10 states Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisJoe Manchin should embrace paid leave — now The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden defends disappointing jobs report Harris's office undergoes difficult reset 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 TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE's first debate as a candidate in Cleveland.
--This report was updated at 2:23 p.m.
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