“Charged with overseeing a live prime-time forum with Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton — widely seen as a dry run of sorts for the coming presidential debates — Matt Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event,” reports The New York Times.
Writes Michael Calderone, the senior media reporter for The Huffington Post, “Wednesday night’s ‘Commander-in-Chief Forum’ on NBC should have gone down as the first time the two 2016 presidential candidates shared a stage. But it will be remembered largely for the shortcomings of the man who was tasked with moderating. Matt Lauer, the ‘Today’ show host, flunked in primetime.”
Much of the criticism was about Lauer’s interactions with Trump. The event took place at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan, New York, before lots of veterans.
Writes The Times, “Drawing particular ire was the moment when Mr. Trump asserted, with his usual confidence: ‘I was totally against the war in Iraq.’
“In fact, Mr. Trump initially said he supported the war, a point that Mrs. Clinton had raised earlier in the evening, citing an interview that Mr. Trump had given to Howard Stern. But Mr. Lauer left the assertion unchallenged, zipping along to his next question about Mr. Trump’s professed tendency to ‘say things that you later regret.’
“Journalists and longtime political observers pounced. ‘How in the hell does Lauer not factcheck Trump lying about Iraq? This is embarrassingly bad,’ wrote Tommy Vietor, a former aide to President Obama. Glenn Kessler, the chief fact checker at The Washington Post, posted a link to NBC’s check of Mr. Trump’s claim and wrote: ‘@MLauer should have been prepared to do this.'”
Notes The Huffington Post, “Part of Lauer’s problems on Wednesday night were not of his own making. With only a half-hour with each candidate, he was pressed for time and forced to rush through topics while bringing in audience questions and timely follow-ups.
“Still, Lauer neglected to challenge Trump on a number of controversial statements and past actions that would have had obvious relevance to the audience of veterans….
“By the end of the night, Lauer himself had become the story, which is often not the way a moderator wants his debate to be remembered.”
To read a lot more details about this story, please click on the links above, which will take you to the original stories in The Times and on The Huffington Post.