While NBC moderator Chuck Todd tried to ask the 10 candidates on stage about gun control at the start of the second hour of the debate, the presidential contenders couldn’t hear the question over chatter from the previous moderators’ microphones, which had been left on backstage.
Some of the moderators who had appeared in the first half of the debate could be heard saying, “I need to go to the restroom” and “Where’s my binder? Someone’s got my binder.”
The hot mics led to a back-and-forth confusion between the candidates, Todd and fellow moderator Rachel Maddow. Todd, appearing nervous but laughing, said, “We are hearing our colleagues’ audio, if the control room could turn off the mics of our previous moderators.”
The announcement of the hot mic issue led to laughter from both the audience and the candidates, though the moderators appeared caught off guard.
“We prepared for everything,” Maddow joked. “We did not prepare for this.”
Todd eventually announced the debate would head to a commercial break while the technical issue was fixed, though it wasn’t immediately clear what was going on. NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.
President Donald Trump, who was watching the debate, promptly tweeted after the technical issues, calling the network’s glitch “truly unprofessional.”
NBC and MSNBC “should be ashamed of themselves for having such a horrible technical breakdown in the middle of the debate,” the president tweeted.
While the debate continued as normal following the glitch, Twitter had a hard time letting go of the humorous mistake in the sea of serious debate topics.