NBC's technical difficulties lead to an awkward pause in the Democratic debate

For NBC News, those fears came true shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, as audio problems forced the network to briefly suspend the second hour of its much-hyped Democratic primary debate.

NBC's technical difficulties lead to an awkward pause in the Democratic debate

Especially during a political debate. On live national television. With President Donald Trump watching — and mocking — in real-time.

For NBC News, those fears came true shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, as audio problems forced the network to briefly suspend the second hour of its much-hyped Democratic primary debate.

Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, the moderators for the debate’s second half, had taken their seats and were exchanging some easy banter when Todd abruptly flinched and touched his ear as an errant audio feed began playing in the debate hall.

As the candidates looked on with confusion, Todd told the audience that the microphones of the previous moderators — José Díaz-Balart and Savannah Guthrie — were still live. The producers cut to a hasty, and unplanned, commercial break.

It was a brief interruption, but enough to merit the attention of one viewer savvy about the nuances of TV production: Trump, who was monitoring from Air Force One on a trip to Japan. He wrote on Twitter that NBC “should be ashamed of themselves.”

“Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!” Trump wrote, reviving his usual line of attack on the news media.

Inside the debate hall, Todd joked to the audience that “nobody gets fired.” Producers skipped one of the subsequent planned commercial breaks to make up for the unexpected interruption.

Still, it could have been worse. In a debate between President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976, the microphones cut out for 27 minutes, while the cameras kept rolling.

“For almost the next half‐hour,” The New York Times wrote at the time, “President Ford and Mr. Carter leaned on their lecterns, sipped water, shifted their weight from foot to foot and stared into the darkness of the Walnut Street Theater.”

On Wednesday, NBC had it easier: The proceedings resumed after just a few minutes.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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