Matt Lauer is now running for cover. Heavily criticized for his handling of the “commander-in-chief forum.” Even some of his colleagues now saying it was disappointing. With 18 million watching, and just 25 minutes to interview each candidate, the “Today” show co-host repeatedly interrupted Hillary Clinton.
Lauer : “Let me go to another”
Clinton: “He refuses to take responsibility for his support.”
Lauer: “Let me go to another”
Clinton: ”That is a judgment issue.”
Lauer spent 10 minutes on Clinton’s emails. Then had to rush her along.
Clinton: “Let me finish.”
Lauer: “I have a lot to get in.”
Clinton: “I’ll talk quickly.”
His aggressive approach – raising questions about whether Lauer then went too easy on Donald Trump – who got more open-ended questions:
“What kind of research are you doing now? What kind of homework are you doing?”
Most egregiously, Lauer failed to fact-check Trump, who said “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that.”
This claim is easy to debunk.
In 2002 on “The Howard Stern Show”, when prompted if he was for invading Iraq, Trump said “yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
Trump did not publicly oppose the war until well after the invasion. The forum was a preview to a highly anticipated debate and a glimpse of what they can expect from both candidates.
“I have a plan” said Trump. Trump’s critics slammed him for being short on specifics and some hitting Clinton for her defensive demeanor.
Even some audience members said they were “disappointed.” Moderating Trump is a unique challenge. Add Clinton, and it’s even harder. Now all eyes on the presidential debate. Just two-and-a-half weeks away. Where the stakes are even higher.
Will Holt jump in and fact-check? Fox’s Chris Wallace, who will moderate the final debate says that is not part of the job.
“I do not believe that it’s my job to be a truth squad. It’s up to the other person to catch them on that.”
The very purpose of an interviewer is now up for debate. Twitter exploded with complaints, with a new hashtag, “Lauering the bar.”
With Today NBC not commenting, but executives know the pressure is now on Lester Holt, Lauer’s colleague, moderating the first presidential debate in two and a half weeks. The New York Times was blunt: Lauer seemed “unprepared,” “like a soldier sent on a mission without ammunition.”