Lester Holt, US Presidential debate moderator gets grilling of his own

By: | Published: September 28, 2016 6:36 AM

NBC's widely respected evening news anchor earned a "C, C+" grade from the Republican candidate Donald Trump, who judged he had been asked "unfair" questions.

"I thought he was fine," Trump told on Fox News yesterday. "I mean nothing outstanding. He gave me very unfair questions at the end." (Reuters)“I thought he was fine,” Trump told on Fox News yesterday. “I mean nothing outstanding. He gave me very unfair questions at the end.” (Reuters)

Lester Holt, who moderated the first US presidential debate, gave a restrained performance that earned him both critics for his hands-off style, and praise for letting the candidates battle it out.

NBC’s widely respected evening news anchor earned a “C, C+” grade from the Republican candidate Donald Trump, who judged he had been asked “unfair” questions.

“I thought he was fine,” Trump told on Fox News yesterday. “I mean nothing outstanding. He gave me very unfair questions at the end.”

The billionaire real estate mogul went on to complain bitterly that Holt had been too easy on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

“He didn’t ask her about the emails, he didn’t ask her about the scandals, he didn’t ask her about the Benghazi deal.”

Holt’s role had been the subject of widespread debate ahead of the event following an avalanche of criticism that fell on fellow NBC anchor Matt Lauer, whose job moderating a forum with both candidates earlier this month was lambasted for being unfair toward Clinton and easy on Trump.

Trump himself had praised the 57-year-old journalist as “a very good man” before the highly anticipated debate, watched by over 80 million people according to estimates cited by US media.

Was Holt’s role to factcheck and call out lies, as many Democrats urged, or let the candidates prove their mettle by fighting their own fights?

“I’m honoured to have this role, but the evening belongs to the candidates,” he said, introducing himself at the start of the debate at Long Island’s Hofstra University near New York.

Early on, Holt began letting the candidates speak beyond their allotted times, allowing the rivals to interrupt him or remaining silent for minutes at a time, leaving the opponents to go at each other.

He also failed to challenge several false assertions.

“CNN Launches Manhunt After Lester Holt Vanishes From Debate,” The New Yorker magazine quipped in a parody piece during the debate.

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