Matt Lauer's Clinton-Trump Forums: He 'Totally Blew It'
Critics call 'Today' host's interviews with Trump, Clinton 'pathetic,' sexist
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2016 11:54 AM CDT
Hillary Clinton, left, takes the stage with "Today" show co-anchor Matt Lauer, right, at the NBC "Commander-in-Chief Forum" held at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – If you weren't sure what all the tweets this morning with the #LaueringTheBar hashtag were all about, you may not have seen NBC's "Commander-in-Chief" military forum Wednesday night with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, helmed by Today Show host Matt Lauer. Critics say that during the hourlong forum (30 minutes with each candidate), Lauer barely called out Trump on odd remarks, exaggerations, or outright lies (specifically on Trump's claim that he was "totally against the war in Iraq"), while he was tougher on Clinton and perhaps even sexist by constantly interrupting her. "The consensus afterward was not kind," the New York Times notes, with columnist Nicholas Kristof saying in his own tweet the forum was "an embarrassment to journalism." Other thoughts:

  • Jonathan Chait writes for New York magazine that "Lauer's performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking." While not afraid to harp on Clinton's email server woes, Chait says, Lauer was ineffective at addressing many of Trump's "wild and dangerous statements," including that he saw Vladimir Putin as a strong leader—a failure on Lauer's part to show we have "a normal politician with normal political failings [running] against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian."

  • Lauer "flunked in primetime," writes Michael Calderone for Huffington Post, especially on Trump's anti-Iraq war claim and a similar claim about US intervention in Libya. What makes Lauer's performance more egregious: He had the info to refute some of Trump's claims, including Clinton bringing up Trump's support for Iraq right before Trump took the stage. "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."
  • Writes Matthew Yglesias on Vox: "Matt Lauer totally blew it." He agrees with Calderone that Lauer dropped the ball on Iraq and Libya, noting, "It's particularly important [for journalists] not to let [politicians get away with bald-faced, on-camera lies] … when, as is the case with Trump on these two issues, the lies are so predictable."
  • Callum Borchers points out in the Washington Post that Lauer was tougher on Ryan Lochte. "Clearly Lauer is more than capable of confronting and correcting misinformation. He just didn't do it with Trump," Borchers writes, though he acknowledges Lauer was dealing with "tight time constraints."
  • The Hollywood Reporter lists some high-profile tweets about Lauer, including a "WTF" post from actor/director Rob Reiner and a Simpsons-related crack courtesy of actor Wil Wheaton.