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ABC Debate Reviews: “Shoddy,” “Televised Train Wreck,” “Excellent”

Debate_4.17.jpgWe didn’t get a chance to watch the Democratic debate on ABC last night, half of us was at the Las Vegas airport, the other half at the RTCA dinner. But many of the millions who did watch, didn’t like what they saw. Including TV critic Tom Shales of the Washington Post and Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News. First Shales:

“It was another step downward for network news — usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.”

And from Bunch, an open letter to Gibson and Stephanopoulos calling their performance “a televised train wreck that my friend and colleague Greg Mitchell has already called, quite accurately, ‘a shameful night for the U.S. media.’”

Alessandra Stanley of the NYTimes focused on “the veiled ties and tensions between news media stars and political figures” which “sometimes make voters bitter, leading them to cling to political satire by the likes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as a way to explain their frustration.”

Stanley’s colleague David Brooks gave ABC an “A”: “I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that,” wrote Brooks.

Back to that criticism, which has generated more than 14,600 comments to the story about the debate.

USA Today has a roundup of the reaction, including from the political blogs.

>More: TVDecoder’s Brian Stelter reports more than 10 million watched the Philly face-off. That makes it the most-watched debate of the primary season.

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