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.
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.
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) July 30, 2019
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
— JackiSchechner (@JackiSchechner) 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.
Did the DNC agree to this format?
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) July 30, 2019
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 TapperThe Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate Sanders: Cummings fights every day to improve life in this country McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE, Dana BashDana BashThe Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate Trump tweets, rally chant dominate Sunday shows as president continues attacks Booker: Trump is ‘worse than a racist’ MORE and Don LemonDon Carlton LemonBlack pastor tells CNN’s Lemon that Trump doesn’t ‘just attack black people. He attacks anybody’ The Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE.
Tapper and Bash’s performance drew unusual praise from Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) July 30, 2019
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 SandersPoll: Beto O’Rourke leads 2020 Democrats in Texas by 3 points, followed by Biden Coalition to air anti-Medicare for All ads during Democratic debates Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPoll: Beto O’Rourke leads 2020 Democrats in Texas by 3 points, followed by Biden Coalition to air anti-Medicare for All ads during Democratic debates Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPoll: Beto O’Rourke leads 2020 Democrats in Texas by 3 points, followed by Biden Coalition to air anti-Medicare for All ads during Democratic debates Racked by schism, Democrats yearn for Obama MORE or Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPoll: Beto O’Rourke leads 2020 Democrats in Texas by 3 points, followed by Biden Coalition to air anti-Medicare for All ads during Democratic debates Racked by schism, Democrats yearn for Obama 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.
Final ratings for the first CNN debate will be available on Wednesday afternoon.
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 TrumpProfessor installs seesaws across US-Mexico border to form connection ‘on both sides’ What the world can expect from the Boris Johnson government Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE‘s first debate as a candidate in Cleveland.