Matt Lauer moderated NBC News’ first Commander-in-Chief Forum Wednesday night, asking and fielding questions for Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Today show host’s performance was roundly criticized online.
People from either side of the political spectrum, as well as many journalists, panned Lauer’s performance for his choice of questions, lack of follow-up queries, and not taking advantage of opportunities to fact-check the Democratic and Republican nominees for president.
“So Lauer’s plan is just to let Trump lie about his past statements on Iraq?” Vox reporter Matthew Yglesias wrote, referring to Trump’s assertions Wednesday — and on multiple occasions during his campaign — that he opposed the United States invading Iraq in March 2003. Non-partisan website FactCheck.org found no public record of those statements, and when asked if he supported the U.S. going to war with Iraq, Trump told Howard Stern in September 2002, “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Seriously — everyone, and I mean everyone, knew this would happen. And Matt Lauer didn’t have a followup planned?” New York Times political columnist Paul Krugman replied to Yglesias. “Multiple questions about email, Trump lies blatantly — not for the first time — about Iraq, no followup. Priorities!”
Krugman was referring to the multiple questions posed to Clinton regarding her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. After several interruptions, Clinton asked Lauer to let her finish, acknowledging there wasn’t much time because of the nature of live television.
Twitter slammed Lauer for discrepancies in his manner of questioning Clinton versus the way he approached Trump.
NBC News did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
See more criticism of the Commander-in-Chief Forum below.