Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY
Published 10:42 p.m. ET June 26, 2019 | Updated 11:00 p.m. ET June 26, 2019
It was an unprecedented commercial break.
At the top of the second hour of Wednesday night’s debate, audio issues interrupted moderators Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, causing the network to go to an unprompted commercial break.
And the interruption couldn’t come at a worse time. The moderators were going to ask the question about gun control, pointing to the mass shooting last year in Parkland, Florida.
Seventeen people died in February 2018 after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Since then, many students have started a movement for more gun control.
But as the moderators were going to ask the question to the candidates, audio from other mics were being picked up in the auditorium.
“I think we had a little mic issue in the back,” Todd said.
“We are hearing our colleagues audio,” he later said after trying to ask the question again. “If the control room can turn off the mics of the previous moderators.”
The audio, however, could still be heard around the auditorium.
“We are going to take a quick break, we are going to get this technical situation fixed, we will be right back,” he said, before cutting away.
President Donald Trump was quick to criticize NBC for technical difficulties.
“.@NBCNews and @MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate,” he wrote. “Truly unprofessional and only worthy of a FAKE NEWS Organization, which they are!”
This is not the first time there have been some technical hiccups during a debate.
In a Sept. 23, 1976 debate between GOP President Gerald Ford and Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter had a technical snafu involving the audio system that led to a 27-minute delay.
Republican Ben Carson didn’t come out on the stage right away, waiting for over a minute, during a Feb. 7, 2016 debate.
Carson, a neurosurgeon, who now serves as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said he never heard his name called so he just stayed off stage
Contributing: Ledyard King
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The Democratic race for the White House kicks off in earnest this week as 20 of the contenders square off in the first set of high-stakes primary debates this Wednesday and Thursday. (June 25)
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