On Wednesday night, the “Today” show host, Matt Lauer moderated the primetime, NBC News “Commander-in-Chief Forum” conducting two separate thirty-minute interviews, first with Hillary Clinton and second with Donald Trump. Clinton lost in the coin toss so Trump made her go first.
Several media critics ripped into Lauer’s line of questioning and even his overall behavior, during the primetime NBC News forum via Twitter.
Lauer was first criticized for his choice to question Clinton about the private email server issue. This discussion lasted 10 minutes, which caused him to later shorten the conversation on ISIS. When an audience member asked Clinton to explain her plans to defeat ISIS, Lauer interrupted and said, “As briefly as you can.” Political commentator Norman Ornstein tweeted, “It is amazing. Lauer interrupted Clinton's answers repeatedly to move on. Not once for Trump. Tough to be a woman running for President.”
Lauer was also criticized for his questions directed at Trump. Lauer asked Trump his opinion about the war in Iraq, to which Trump responded, “I was totally against the war in Iraq.” But earlier, Clinton had referenced an interview Trump previously had with Howard Stern in which Trump said he supported the war. Ezra Klein, Founder of Vox.com, tweeted, “It’s not a great idea, in general, for journalists to let politicians get away with bald-faced, on-camera lies."
Former aide to President Obama, Tommy Vietor, tweeted, “How in the hell does Lauer not factcheck Trump lying about Iraq? This is embarrassingly bad.”
Many other media critics took to Twitter to share their outrage and dislike for Lauer’s performance.
Former President Obama speechwriter, Jon Favreau tweeted, “I don't blame Lauer for asking the email question. But it's ABSURD that he started off with Trump, ‘Why should you be Commander-in-Chief?’”
New York Magazine columnist, Jonathan Chait tweeted, “Trump lies about opposing Iraq war. Lauer lets it go. No follow up. Unreal.”
Will Saletan, a writer at Slate tweeted “Lauer has done great interviews. But that's one of the weakest, least incisive performances I've seen from a presidential forum moderator.”
New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, summed up the general consensus in his tweet, “This #NBCNewsForum feels like an embarrassment to journalism. It's about soundbites, not serious discussion of foreign policy.”