CBS News had a rough night. At least that’s what seems to be the pervading sentiment on Twitter.
The first hour of Tuesday night’s CBS Democratic primary debate from South Carolina seemed to address what transpired during the previous week’s debate, as opposed to the current issues at hand.
Frankly, much of it was tough to watch.
This was the first primary debate for more than one of the TV news journalists on the panel, and first for the network in this primary cycle.
The candidates constantly spoke over each other and complained, while the moderators struggled to keep the peace. It also took a while to get to the actual issues.
Where are the discussions about healthcare, the coronavirus, foreign policy, education, and how each candidate is best equipped to beat Trump in general? We’re nearly 30 minutes in and haven’t hit any of these topics as far as I can tell.
— A.J. Katz (@ajkatztv) February 26, 2020
Many others in the news media seemed to agree.
CBS needs this break more than the candidates. That was a chaotic start. The moderators need to step in more forcefully and regain control in the next segment.
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) February 26, 2020
Debates are hard. TV news rivalries are hardcore. That said, debate pros at other TV networks are exchanging messages calling this a “disaster,” a “nightmare” and worse
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 26, 2020
I deeply admire both of these moderators incredibly but wish our team at PBS @NewsHour had a shot at this one …
Longing for a little more chill and a lot more thought.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) February 26, 2020
Does CBS have a buzzer or something to organize this??? What’s going on?
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) February 26, 2020
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) February 26, 2020
This is a shit show ….. sorry. #DemDebate2020
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) February 26, 2020
More than 30 min in and I don’t think we’ve had a thoughtful discussion/debate on any substantive policy related issue.
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) February 26, 2020
Ugh this is getting out of control. #DemocraticDebate
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) February 26, 2020
Not impressed with the way this has started. Questions seem intended to provoke bickering rather than reveal anything of substance. https://t.co/5WBCsJ1Bqq
— Pat Kiernan (@patkiernan) February 26, 2020
Why are the candidates bringing up coronavirus before the moderators
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) February 26, 2020
the moderators have lost complete control of this debate
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) February 26, 2020
New rule. If a candidate raises his or her hand, the moderator doesn’t call on them. It’s a Presidential debate. Not third grade math class. #DemDebate2020
— Craig Melvin (@craigmelvin) February 26, 2020
— Mark Lukasiewicz (@DeanLuk) February 26, 2020
I don’t know who’s winning this debate but the moderators are getting crushed.
— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) February 26, 2020
The moderators have lost control.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) February 26, 2020
From NY1 political anchor Errol Louis:
When the candidates start talking over each other, the moderators should:
1) Bring the whole thing to a dead halt
2) Give them an order in which to speak (“you, then you senator, then you Mr. Mayor,” etc.)
Not complicated. You have to keep control.
— Errol Louis (@errollouis) February 26, 2020
CBS asking favorite motto?? Are you kidding? What a fiasco.
— Bill Carter (@wjcarter) February 26, 2020
At one point, Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan, the only professional moderator on the panel, stepped in to save the day.
Finally (!) Margaret Brennan asks the candidates to follow the rules of the debate.
— Elizabeth Vargas (@EVargasTV) February 26, 2020
Roughly 55 minutes in, the moderators started taking questions from Twitter users and we get the candidates talking about their ideas. Yes!
For instance, Sen. Klobuchar is asked about her plans to address affordable housing.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) February 26, 2020
But all in all, the reviews just weren’t great.
I can’t believe they just played Biden’s answer off like an Academy Awards speech. WTF was that?
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 26, 2020
Stop. Complaining. About. The. Moderators. (Unless you’re on Twitter then it’s OK)
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 26, 2020
Some good questions, but others — sugary drinks in NYC? — feel disconnected at a moment when Trump is purging the government of officials not deemed sufficiently loyal to him, amid serious concerns about the rule of law. Foreign policy? Climate crisis?
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) February 26, 2020
The CBS moderators are asking Bloomberg about his policy on sugary drinks and trans fats in New York.
They won’t ask him about spying on Muslims in New York.
Muslims have less value in the US media than sugary drinks and trans fats.#DemDebate
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 26, 2020
CBS TV Debate critique
1. Too many questioners
2. Too many gotcha questions
3. No control of the candidates yelling over each other
4. No need for a studio audience
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) February 26, 2020
The debate ended in an incredibly odd fashion. Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell appeared as though they were trying to end the debate before they realized they had one more segment.
Unfortunately, this tweet just about summed it up.
My motto is don’t let CBS do a debate again.
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) February 26, 2020
CNN and Univision are up next, March 12 from Phoenix.