CNN posted low debate ratings once again amid claims of stunning unprofessionalism on the part of moderator Abby Phillip.
WashingtonExaminer reports the latest Democratic primary debate, hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register, garnered just over 7 million viewers.
The number is low for this debate cycle: The most-watched debates were the first, held in June, and the third, held in September. The June debate drew roughly 15 million viewers while the September debate brought in 3 million more than that.
The record number of viewers for a presidential debate was set during the 2016 election cycle by the first Republican primary debate, hosted by Fox News, which drew 24 million viewers.
The debate was overshadowed by drama between two of the candidates on stage: independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Days before the debate, reports suggested that Sanders told Warren that a woman could not win the presidency. Warren later confirmed the report in a statement from her campaign.
During the debate, Sanders denied making the charge. The CNN moderators ignored Sanders’s denial and questioned Warren as if the exchange happened as Warren had described it.
Per ABC, there was some laughter from the audience, and Sanders shook his head.
It was an odd moment: Phillip, a veteran of the Washington Post, ABC News and Politico, was appearing to dismiss Sanders’ denial or imply that it was not believable. The fact that CNN broke the initial story about the alleged conversation between the candidates, first based on anonymous sourcing but then confirmed by Warren, added another layer of intrigue.
It provoked anger among Sanders supporters on Twitter, one of whom wrote that fellow fans of the Vermont senator should tweet to CNN “and let them know just how bad and unreasonable” its work on the debate had been.
The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank, wrote Wednesday that it was a stunning moment — “stunning it its ineptness, and stunning in its unprofessionalism.”