Live Blog: MSNBC Democratic Presidential Debate

By Mark Joyella 

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It’s Hillary and Bernie and no more Martin, and just moments ago MSNBC breaking news anchor Brian Williams called the Democratic two-person race a “barn burner.”

Will any barns be burning tonight in New Hampshire? Lawrence O’Donnell says Hillary Clinton’s mission tonight is simple: to be liked.

Our debate moderators tonight are Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, who talked about the strengths and weaknesses of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a new interview with Playboy.

But for now, the beverages are chilled, the Seamless has been ordered, and it’s time to begin. Let’s do this.

9:25 p.m. ET: “Artful Smear” The gloves have indeed come off on the Democratic side, with Clinton suggesting that Sanders hasn’t actually run a clean campaign but is using innuendo to deliver an “artful smear” on Clinton’s record. “If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.” The crowd in New Hampshire booed Clinton’s “smear” line, but journalists watching cheered for the feisty exchange:

The social conversation around the debate has produced some heavily-commented moments, but Facebook says this was the most-discussed from the debate’s first hour:

10:30 p.m. Time for My Closeup With two candidates, MSNBC is taking advantage of a time-honored tradition: the split-screen, which has given viewers a chance to watch Sanders’ face as Clinton attacks, and vice versa. The network has also employed a number of extreme closeups, and not everyone has enjoyed them:

10:45 p.m. ET Was This a 90 Minute Debate? Debates this election season have been notoriously unreliable when it comes to starting and ending, and MSNBC is getting some criticism:

In fairness, however, the network did make clear the debate would run for two hours in its news release announcing the details of MSNBC’s coverage: “Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ and host of MSNBC’s ‘MTP Daily,’ and Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show,’ will moderate the debate live from 9-11 p.m. ET at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.” So relax, everyone.