President Trump was on to something when he tweeted Wednesday about the unprofessionalism of the first Democratic candidates' debate. "As a 'not ready for prime time' moment, this one ranked right up there," media columnist Margaret Sullivan begins at the Washington Post. At the start of hour two of the NBC broadcast, "strange voices seemed to pipe in from the great beyond" as Chuck Todd—one of five moderators working in two shifts—twice asked a question about gun violence, referencing the Parkland shooting, only to be met with confusion, then laughter from the 10 candidates on stage. But the fact that the wrong mics were on was just the most obvious issue for Sullivan. The debate overall "just didn't work," she writes. "Mostly, the problem was the lack of depth resulting from the format. There were simply too many people."
"Everything was glancing. Almost pointlessly so," Sullivan continues, noting "Todd's directive to the candidates to express the greatest threat to the country in one word was a particular triumph of shallowness." It didn't help that the candidates were "shouting over each other," including some who "remained unfamiliar" thanks to NBC's "failure to identify them repeatedly." Sullivan does, however, acknowledge the ambition in trying to introduce voters to as many candidates as possible. "Maybe this result is the best that could be done," she writes. "And maybe night two—with its broader array of big names—will be more successful, more stimulating, and plain old better TV." Click here to find out which moderators Sullivan did like. (Republicans expected this.)