On Wednesday Sept. 7, NBC was hosting a commander-in-chief presidential forum with a live audience and spontaneous questions. It was touted as the first time both of the 2016 presidential candidates were on stage together.
The trouble was, they didn’t actually appear on stage at the same time. They were interviewed separately.
The moderator for the evening’s chat was The Today Show’s Matt Lauer. Many who watched the presidential forum, including high level journalists, criticized Lauer’s interview skills and the questions he posed to each candidate.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump started his time on stage by incorrectly stating (read: lying) he was against the Iraq War. Trump had actually expressed support for the Iraq War prior to us sending American troops in 2003.
Lauer had the information he needed to challenge Trump on his assertion, but said nothing. We’ve come to expect this of Trump, however it’s the moderator’s job to keep the nominees on track, and truthful. After all, the only reason they are there is to inform voters.
The failure to fact-check Trump on his Iraq stance raised eyebrows especially among fellow journalists. Many took to Twitter to air their criticism. The hashtag #LaueringTheBar was born and the comments are harshly real.
Think Lauer should have "fact checked" Trump on Iraq? I agree.
— Rep. Steven Smith ?? (@RepStevenSmith) September 8, 2016
#LaueringTheBar The bar got lowered so much Cheney tripped over it in the underground bunker.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) September 8, 2016
— Harold Itzkowitz (@HaroldItz) September 8, 2016
— Pat is now Enraged Fuller Ω ? #Unite4Victory (@bannerite) September 8, 2016
As well, Lauer neglected to challenge Trump on his four Vietnam draft deferments, his mocking of Sen. John McCain’s capture and torture as an American P.O.W., or his graceless and offensive retort to the Kahn family, or any number of questionable things he’s said regarding military matters.
Things I’m sure the audience filled with military vets would have loved to hear answers to.
The fact is, Lauer’s fellow journalists and TV audience noticed something amiss in his hosting of the forum right from the start.
He pushed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton right from the start on her handling of classified information as secretary of state. The same types of questions she’s answered ad nauseum in previous interviews. Lauer then turned to a member of the audience who also asked a question regarding the email situation.
The entire live program was only one hour long. Clinton was scheduled to appear first and Trump during the second half. So, there wasn’t a lot of time to linger on any one topic. It made many wonder why Lauer didn’t address other weightier topics in the same manner.
The disparities in Lauer’s questioning of both candidates was on full display when he opened the Trump forum with a softball question. Asking Trump what was it in his personal or professional life which prepared him to be commander in chief. This allowed Trump to brag on himself.
I have to agree with the backlash Lauer is getting. At one point, watching the presidential forum, I thought Lauer must be a serious Republican. It was that biased.
In the end I’m not sure how much more we learned about either candidate. Which of course, was the whole point of the event.
Featured image from YouTube video.