News and Commentary

‘What A Fiasco’: Moderators Of ‘Disaster’ Debate Get Blasted On Social Media
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden participate the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Democrats running for president gathered for their latest debate on Tuesday to explain their views on a host of topics.

The problem: They all talked at the same time.

The debate moderators who were there to ask the questions and parcel out the time for answers completely lost control of the candidates, all of whom decided to simply start talking whenever they wanted.

Social media, as it’s wont to be, was not kind.

“These moderators might be the weakest moderators I’ve seen in a debate,” wrote one user on Twitter. “They have absolutely no control over who is speaking and they are forcing candidates to steamroll them if they want any speaking time. This is a trainwreck.”

CBS moderators Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King took a lot of heat.

“Norah and Gayle have lost control of this debate,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck tweeted.

“Moderators are doing an absolutely awful job. I get that it’s hard to contain the six candidates who are rabidly going after Bernie Sanders but they need to take the reins,” The Young Turks host Emma Vigeland said.

“Awful moderating,” Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin simply put.

Meghan McCain, a co-host of “The View,” said “these moderators need to get this under control. This is way worse than any bad day @TheView hot topics table. At least Whoopi has the bell…”

MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski wondered: “Does CBS have a buzzer or something to organize this??? What’s going on?”

Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show, mocked the talkfest, posting a tweet (not about the dbate) from Lady Gaga.

Donna Brazile, the former Democratic National Committee interim chairman who now works as a Fox News contributor, tweetED, “Dear Madam Moderators: throw your shoes down. Get control.”

One of the worst offenders was former Vice President Joe Biden, the one-time front runner who is quickly becoming an also-ran. Biden often talked over the moderators trying to cut him off, at one point insisting, “I am not out of time. You spoke over time, and I’m going to talk.”

At another point, he asked, “Can we just speak up when we want to? Is that the idea?” At at yet another point, when Biden tried to break in again, King said, “I promise, Mr. Vice President, we are going to get to you.” Biden whined, “You keep promising me that, but you never get to me.”

The moderators also took hits for the weird ending, when O’Donnell moved to end the debate and King told viewers hang on, they’ll be back after a quick commercial break.

“Absolute trainwreck of a #DemDebate! They don’t even know when it’s supposed to end! Terrible job by @NorahODonnell and @GayleKing. SMH,” wrote one user on Twitter.

“So awkward. O’Donnell ends debate but there’s apparently one more segment,” National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar tweeted.

“Did they just have a fake ending to squeeze in more ads, followed by no more debate?!” Daily Beast senior editor Harry Siegel wrote.

And the moderators took more fire for asking the candidates what their favorite motto is.

“CBS asking favorite motto?? Are you kidding? What a fiasco,” one Twitterer wrote.

Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor at The Washington Post, asked: “Ugh this is really how we are landing this raggedy plane of a debate? Asking about their favorite quotes?”