Warren, Bloomberg tangle over sexist behavior and 'jokes'
New York (CNN Business)The chaotic final Democratic debate before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday averaged 15.8 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.
About 15.3 million watched on CBS and another half a million tuned in via the cable channel BET. An unknown number of additional viewers watched a livestream on Twitter, which co-sponsored the event.
The debate’s strong ratings performance — higher than virtually every drama and sitcom on American TV — is a testament to intense interest in the Democratic race to replace President Trump. Lots of people mocked the free-for-all nature of the debate, but lots of people still watched.
Democratic debate ratings have been on the rise this winter after several lower-rated face-offs last fall. This may, in part, reflect some curiosity about the late entry of Michael Bloomberg.
Tuesday marked Bloomberg’s second time on a Democratic debate stage, and the season’s tenth debate overall.
The free-for-all was widely panned by TV critics and political observers, many of whom said the moderators failed to maintain control while seven candidates competed for attention.
“When a fight turns into a stampede, moderators need to make the debate coherent for the audience or guide it with productive questions. CBS’s crew wasn’t equipped to do either,” James Poniewozik, chief TV critic at The New York Times, wrote Wednesday.
The CBS debate in South Carolina took place less than a week after six of the candidates debated in Nevada. That event averaged 19.6 million viewers across both the NBC broadcast network and the MSNBC cable channel. The combination of two different TV outlets likely resulted in the higher total.
The NBC-MSNBC debate set a new ratings record for Democratic primary debates. The CBS debate will also rank high on the list, though the total audience number may fluctuate slightly when final ratings are released.
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