CBS Makes MSNBC and CNN Look Halfway Competent with Terrible Debate

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We’re not sure if Tuesday night’s Democratic debate helped primary voters decide which of these pathetic candidates they’d rather vote for in South Carolina this weekend, but it certainly clarified something else: CBS News should never be given another one of these debates.

The show was moderated by “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell and “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King, although it would be a stretch to say they did much moderating. The two-hour broadcast was characterized by a rowdy audience (which drew suspicions all on its own), unceasing and unintelligible crosstalk on the stage, and bizarrely trivial and unfocused questions from O’Donnell and King.

“These moderators need to get this under control,” tweeted Meghan McCain. “This is way worse than any bad day @TheView hot topics table. At least Whoopi has the bell…”

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski wasn’t any more impressed than McCain. “Does CBS have a buzzer or something to organize this??? What’s going on?”

Even former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazille (who probably ought to think twice before weighing in on Democratic debates) had something to say: “Dear Madam Moderators: throw your shoes down. Get control.”

The terrible moderation became a running theme for the candidates themselves.

“The moderator guys!” shouted Bernie Sanders at one point as his response was drowned out by his competitors.

Former Vice President Joe Biden complained repeatedly about the other candidates failing to follow the rules of the debate.

“I’m not out of time,” Biden said during one moment of frustration. “He spoke overtime, and I’m gonna talk!”

“I promise, Mr. Vice President, we are going to get to you today,” King assured Biden at one point.

“You keep promising me that; you haven’t done it yet,” Biden huffed.

But the incompetent moderation was not the only complaint registered by critics on social media. Bernie Sanders supporters, in particular, were turned off by what they saw as a blatantly-bought audience, which erupted into boos every time criticism was thrown at billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Conversely, the crowd cheered wildly for every anemic line out of Bloomberg’s mouth, leading many to suspect he’d simply packed the audience with paid shills.

“I can’t explain the nature of the cheers and boos unless @CBSNews allowed the audience to be filled with a paid cheering section for Bloomberg — and also broadcast Bloomberg ads in the middle of the debate,” wrote Max Kennerly. “It is outrageous and we all need to think of how to sanction CBS for it.”

It’s not easy to make CNN and MSNBC look good, but CBS managed to pull it off. They should probably sit out the rest of the year and think about what they did.