By Nicholas Fondacaro
Arguably, the biggest takeaway from the Democratic debate on Tuesday was that CBS News didn’t know how to moderate. CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell and This Morning co-host Gayle King had almost no control as the debate would often descend into a cacophony of shrieking candidates. Their incompetence was so blatant that the panel on CNN’s AC360 couldn’t help but periodically mock the spectacle. Including one who playfully suggested they “all talk over each other.”
As he began the program, host Anderson Cooper busted out some Yiddish to encapsulate the nonsense he had just witnessed. “The final Democratic debate before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday is now history. And it goes into the books as both a potentially decisive moment of the race for many voters, as well as something of a brawl or a mishigas,” he joked, to the laughter of chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
For her part, Borger lamented how “the candidates generally were not well served by the debate itself,” and noted how “there were points that unfortunately the moderators seemed to lose control of the debate” as it unraveled into a series of “free for alls.”
Her colleagues agreed:
COOPER: There were times when there were two people, two candidates talking just repeatedly at the same time.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Yelling.
BORGER: Right. Exactly. Of course, every candidate there was thinking, “uh-oh I have to do well here. This could be it for me. Except for Bernie, maybe. So, you know what the stakes were.
At one point, former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer Jess McIntosh thought the debate perfectly mirrored the state of the race. “I think it was a difficult and chaotic and frustrating debate which is about where we are in terms of the Democratic primary process to begin with,” she quipped.
Sanders supporter Dr. Abdul El-Sayed then reminded the panel that the debate was co-hosted by Twitter. “So, this does feel a lot like Twitter,” he said.
Sometime later, Cooper teed up a discussion about a confrontation Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg had about the former’s radical ideology. But since the soundbite devolved into a yelling contest, the live shot cut back to a panel sharing a good laugh. To which former Obama advisor David Axelrod jokingly suggested: “Let’s all talk over each other.”
And in a post-debate interview with OutFront host Erin Burnett, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) didn’t seem pleased with how the debate was mishandled. “Well, it was another slugfest. And I don’t think that necessarily serves the people who are watching,” she said.
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.