Memo: Andy Lack Applauds Network Staffers For Democratic Primary Debate

Andy Lack - Getty - H 2019

"You knocked it out of the park," wrote the NBC News and MSNBC chairman.

Wednesday night's Democratic primary debate, co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, was not a ratings standout, drawing just 6.5 million viewers. But, the debate — the fifth of the 2020 presidential cycle — received positive reviews, and the executive who oversees the network and NBC News pronounced himself pleased.

"Last night, in the midst of a historic and non-stop, intense news week centered on impeachment hearings, you brought your extraordinary talent, energy and focus to the enormous task of creating a valuable presidential debate for millions of American voters," NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack wrote Thursday in a memo to staffers obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "And you knocked it out of the park."

Lack called out the performance of debate moderators Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Kristen Welker and Ashley Parker. "Our team of moderators was exceptional and they’re getting well-deserved rave reviews," said the exec.

Of the network's co-host, Lack wrote: "Our Post colleagues blended seamlessly with our writing team to stage a debate that challenged the candidates in new and largely unexplored areas including national security, parental leave, child care, housing, and more. Together, they crafted questions with rigor and depth and attention to detail."

The debate was held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. "The production itself was also remarkable," Lack said. "We took a completely blank canvas — a sound stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta — and turned it into a stunning debate venue worthy of the moment."

MSNBC and NBC News co-hosted the first Democratic debate of the cycle in late June. "When we kicked off the debate season by producing two consecutive nights of presidential debates on three networks, I thought the level of difficulty was as high as it could get," Lack said Thursday. "No so fast."

Lack, who has faced questions — both internally and externally — about his handling of misconduct allegations made against former host Matt Lauer, made sure to thank his troops for their hard work on Wednesday night.

"So many of you contributed to the success of this debate in so many ways, on MSNBC and all of our digital platforms," he said. "And to those of you who continue to guide our outstanding coverage of the impeachment hearings on NBC News, MSNBC and Digital — many thanks! Keep up the great work."