Rachel Maddow came into the first Democratic primary debate Wednesday night hoping that candidates weren’t going to be nice and cordial to one another. For the most part, they let her down with a tame and quickly paced debate where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was mentioned more than either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden.
Despite having successfully moderated a town hall in 2016 featuring both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, NBC had been criticized in media circles for allowing Maddow — an MSNBC opinion host — to be one of its five debate moderators (which continue Thursday night at 9 p.m.).
So far, Maddow has sidestepped much of the criticism, and held her own Wednesday night during the first evening of debates, which was headlined by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who ended the evening with the most airtime.
Thursday, frontrunner Joe Biden (who wasn’t mentioned once Wednesday night) will face-off against several top-tier candidates, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Each Democrat will have 60 seconds to answer a moderator’s question, and 30 seconds to respond when mentioned. While there will be no opening statements, each of the 10 candidates on the stage will have the opportunity to deliver a closing statement.
When: Thursday, June 27
Where: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami
Time: 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Moderators: Lester Holt (both hours), Savannah Guthrie and José Diaz-Balart (hour one), Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow (hour two)
TV: NBC, MSNBC, Telemundo
Streaming: NBCNews.com, NBC News app, Telemundo app, NoticiasTelemundo.com, NBC News’ Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages (all free)
Holt will anchor the NBC Nightly News from Miami at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. NBC-TV will stick with its normal prime time programming — Extra, Access, and The Wall — before cutting to live coverage of the debate at 9 p.m.
Coverage on MSNBC kicks off at 7 p.m. with a pre-debate special hosted by Brian Williams, Nicolle Wallace, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell. Hardball host Chris Matthews will join the broadcast from the spin room in Miami.
Over on Fox News, debate coverage will begin at 6 p.m. with a special edition of Special Report hosted by Bret Baier live from Miami. FOX News @ Night anchor Shannon Bream will pick up coverage following the debate from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
CNN has chosen not to air any of its nightly shows out of Miami. Instead, the network will stick with its normal programming slate, and hosts like Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon will turn to reporters on the scene.
Outside of top-tier candidates Biden, Sanders, Harris, and Buttigieg, there will be six other Democratic presidential hopefuls on the stage tonight: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, author Marianne Williamson, and businessman Andrew Yang.
The DNC has approved as many as 12 debates, though there may be fewer, depending how the primary process plays out. Six are scheduled to take place in 2019, with six more set for 2020.
CNN will host the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, which will also be broken up over two nights — Thursday, July 30, and Friday, July 31. The third debate will air on ABC on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, if two nights are necessary.