~Matt Lauer Fields Storm of Criticism Over Clinton-Trump Forum~
It was a high-stakes political moment, far from the chummier confines of the “Today” show and, for Matt Lauer, NBC’s stalwart of the morning, a chance to prove his broadcasting mettle on the presidential stage.
The consensus afterward was not kind.
Charged with overseeing a live prime-time forum with Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton – widely seen as a dry run of sorts for the coming presidential debates – Mr. Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening, September 7, by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event.
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The Commander in Chief Forum was an embarrassment, but still enough to disqualify Trump
The idea for the Commander in Chief forum seemed decent, but two things utterly wrecked the evening: the half-hour slice given each candidate was inadequate to discuss substantive issues; and Matt Lauer.
Most of that fault?
Lauer started his interview by sandbagging Hillary Clinton, interrupting her first answer with a lengthy “question” about the email server that was both unrelated to the supposed topic of the evening, and weighted with built-in scorn up to and including the idea that Clinton’s non-crime was “disqualifying” of her candidacy. Before Hillary could complete her answer to this are-we-really-going-to-do-this zinger, Lauer interrupted her again. With another email question. Then he did it again.
Watching a replay of the affair, it’s not that Matt Lauer interrupted some of Hillary Clinton’s answers. It’s that he interrupted all of HIllary Clinton’s answers. Repeatedly, he leaped in mid-sentence, first to spew out ‘questions’ that were actually lengthy position statements allowing no obvious response, then to break in and remind Clinton that they were running out of time when she tried to beat Lauer’s words into an actual question. Lauer displayed a level of disrespect and antagonism to Hillary Clinton that wasn’t just unprofessional, it was punchable.
Even when Trump was producing a running stream of non-connected thoughts, Lauer sat back until Trump had come stumbling to a halt. He didn’t challenge Trump’s flat-out lies, and several times handed the Republican candidate open-ended questions with an intellectual challenge between “what’s your favorite color” and “how cool are puppies?” Lauer never hit Trump with anything remotely equivalent to emails – nothing about his taxes, his failed business deals, his 3,500 lawsuits, or the handy bribes that made some of those lawsuits go away.
Overall he treated Trump like a respected businessman, while addressing Clinton as if she was a PA assigned to warm up his coffee between floats in the Macy’s parade.
And still …
Without the much-scorned teleprompter that has kept Trump modestly on-track in recent speeches, what was revealed – again – was a man so utterly devoid of tact, truthfulness, or information that anyone watching should have seen enough to know that Donald Trump as president would be a catastrophe of dinosaur killer scale.