Before welcoming additional moderators, the CBS Evening News anchor and the CBS This Morning co-anchor helmed the debate, but many on social media knocked their inability to keep the candidates in line.
"These moderators might be the weakest moderators I've seen in a debate. They have absolutely no control over who is speaking and they are forcing candidates to steamroll them if they want any speaking time. This is a trainwreck," writer Josh Jordan declared.
"These moderators need to get this under control. This is way worse than any bad day @TheView hot topics table. At least Whoopi has the bell..." Meghan McCain said comparing the CBS debate to her daytime talk show.
"CBS needs this break more than the candidates. That was a chaotic start. The moderators need to step in more forcefully and regain control in the next segment," New York Times writer Michael M. Grynbaum tweeted.
"I deeply admire both of these moderators incredibly but wish our team at PBS @NewsHour had a shot at this one ... Longing for a little more chill and a lot more thought," PBS NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins said, giving a shoutout to her colleagues who previously moderated a Democratic debate.
"Moderators have got to take control of this thing," The Hill's Krystal Ball urged the CBS anchors.
"Does CBS have a buzzer or something to organize this??? What’s going on?" MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski asked.
"Norah and Gayle have lost control of this debate," NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck tweeted.
"Moderators are doing an absolutely awful job. I get that it’s hard to contain the six candidates who are rabidly going after Bernie Sanders but they need to take the reins," The Young Turks host Emma Vigeland said.
"Awful moderating," Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin simply put.
Even former 2020 candidate Andrew Yang weighed in on the debate.
"The moderators are having trouble controlling this debate," Yang wrote.
The CBS moderators were also mocked for their "awkward" moment when O'Donnell attempted to wrap up the debate before King told viewers they'd be back after a commercial break.
"So awkward. O’Donnell ends debate but there’s apparently one more segment," National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar tweeted.
"Did they just have a fake ending to squeeze in more ads, followed by no more debate?!" Daily Beast senior editor Harry Siegel reacted.