CNN Producers Fear Democratic Debate Will Bomb Without Donald Trump (Exclusive)

Insider tells TheWrap the mixture of not having Trump on stage and competition from a Major League Baseball playoff game has staffers fearing an unimpressive rating

Donald Trump and Jeff Zucker
Getty Images/CNN

CNN producers are concerned the first Democratic debate airing on Tuesday night will tank in without the star power of Donald Trump, a network insider told TheWrap.

There’s worry that “we won’t do good in the ratings,” the insider said, also pointing out producers’ concern that the debate, airing from 8:30-10:30 p.m. ET, is up against stiff competition of Major League Baseball Playoff games.

A large swath of viewers from two of the biggest media markets in the U.S. will be watching baseball as the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers square off in Game 4 of the National League Divisional Series on TBS at 8:07 p.m ET.

Media pundits have set much lower expectations for CNN’s Democratic debate compared to the first two GOP debates, thinking fewer candidates and rhetorical bomb throwing from candidates like Trump would likely equate to less eyeballs.

The Donald himself predicted the debate would tank on Monday.

“I think people are going to turn it on for a couple of minutes and then fall asleep,” Trump said on Fox News.  “I don’t want to say this in a braggadocious way, but a person at CNN and a couple of other people said, ‘We have to put Donald Trump in this debate. We’re going to die with it [without him].’”

CNN has a long way to go–the first GOP debate on Fox News set a cable news record with 24 million viewers. The second on CNN broke a network record for viewers with 23 million watching.