Over the course of the first presidential debate, moderator Lester Holt interrupted Donald Trump a record 41 times to either fact-check or follow-up on the Republican’s statements. Holt did the same only seven times for Hillary Clinton. While he pressed Trump on everything from Birtherism (which Clinton’s campaign started in 2008) to his inconsistencies on the Iraq War, Holt failed to ask Clinton about Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, her ever-deepening email scandal, or her “deplorables” smear. He also somehow forgot to bring up the issue of immigration.
Despite Holt having “dropped all pretense of objectivity,” Trump praised him afterward, telling CNN he thought he did a “great job” moderating. In defense of Holt, who is a registered Republican, Trump did invite some of the interruptions due to his own habit of running over his time and cutting Clinton off, but the massive disparity between Holt’s treatment of the two candidates is simply too egregious to ignore. The numbers don’t lie: 41 to 7 is no accident—no, this is, as HotAir’s Larry O’Connor put it, Holt learning “The Matt Lauer Lesson.” Below are the most egregious examples of Holt’s mostly one-sided moderation:
1. Holt’s Stop-and-Frisk Fact-Check of Trump Fails the Fact-Check.
The worst moment in the debate for Holt was his insistence on acting as fact-checker, Candy Crowley-style, on Trump’s discussion of stop-and-frisk. Holt interjected to declare, falsely, that stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional.
“Your two — your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men,” he said.
As Rudy Giulani explained afterward, that is simply untrue. One judge had a problem with the law, and, as Trump correctly explained, the new mayor simply canceled the law, bringing the legal battle to an abrupt end before any determination was made.
2. Holt Drills Trump on Birtherism, Lets Clinton Slide.
Holt also put some energy into trying to nail Trump on what Clinton described as his “racist” Birtherism.
“Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen,” said Holt. “You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?”
Despite pressing Trump on the issue, Clinton, who’s 2008 campaign and her surrogates have been proven by major media sources to have been the originator of Birtherism, was spared such treatment.
3. Holt Sang Clinton’s Praises.
Another egregious moment came when Holt asked Trump yet another gotcha question and managed to work in strong praise for Clinton in the process, saying, “Mr. Trump, this year Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn’t have, quote, ‘a presidential look.’ She’s standing here right now. What did you mean by that?”
4. Holt Hammers Trump On Iraq.
The Daily Caller describes the blatantly biased moment:
Holt interrupted Trump the most during a particularly heated exchange about Trump’s stance on the Iraq war. Both candidates attempted to dodge their former stances. Holt challenged Trump in particular, cutting him off several times to assert the business mogul did indeed support the war in Iraq when it was popular.
Holt interrupted Trump 10 times during the exchange, and demanded at least five times why Trump thought that he had better judgement than Clinton.
5. Holt Badgers Trump on His Tax Returns. Crickets on Clinton Foundation.
Holt tried to pin Trump on his refusal to release his tax returns, pushing back when Trump gave his standard response about the ongoing audit.
“Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns,” said Holt. “And the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money to — who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?”
Holt didn’t seem interested in the suspicious financial dealings of Clinton, particularly in regard to the Clinton Foundation.
6. Holt Forgets To Ask Clinton About Just About Everything Important.
The ongoing and ever-worsening email scandal that is threatening to bring Clinton’s candidacy down was not inquired about by Holt. Neither was the lowest, most controversial moment in her time as Secretary of State: the Benghazi attack. Another miss: Clinton describing “half” of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables.” Amazing.