CNN may have been the biggest loser on Tuesday night as host of the lowest-rated Democratic primary debate so far this election cycle.
The network landed an average of 8.3 million views during the three-hour telecast. That marked quite a dip from its previous two-part debates in July, where viewership peaked at 10.7 million. CNN’s debate also saw an almost 50-percent drop from the first debate hosted by NBC News back in June, which received 15.3 million viewers.
In addition, 449,000 viewers watched live streams on various platforms from CNN and The New York Times, who co-hosted the debate.
The fourth debate featured 12 candidates on one stage. They were: former Vice President Joe Biden,; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Kamala Harris of California; tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; and billionaire donor Tom Steyer.
CNN and The Times faced an avalanche of criticism during and after the debate. The hosting news outlets received backlash for not asking the 12 candidates about topics including China, which has made big headlines in recent weeks amid the ongoing trade war with the U.S.; the mounting tensions in Hong Kong; and the growing controversy with the NBA.
Even the candidates slammed the debate hosts. Castro blasted the debate for not asking any questions about climate change but making time for a question about Ellen DeGeneres’ friendship with former President George W. Bush. Harris similarly called out the news organizations for overlooking climate change, immigration and LGBT issues.
Gabbard, however, may have had the fiercest attack, which she made on the debate stage.
“The New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime-change war,” she said, apparently gesturing toward the moderators. “Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia — completely despicable.”
Gabbard appeared to refer to CNN analyst Bakari Sellers’ comments describing the congresswoman as a “puppet for the Russian government.”
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report