Liberal Lester Holt and Hillary Tag Team Trump; E-Mails Barely Mentioned

Debate moderator Lester Holt repeatedly challenged Donald Trump during Monday night’s highly anticipated debate, but refrained from going after Hillary Clinton in the same aggressive manner. Holt also minimized the Democrat’s e-mail scandal. It was only brought up because Trump did so. 

Instead, the NBC Nightly News anchor promoted the historic nature of Clinton’s candidacy, demanding, “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?” 

He then followed-up, reminding, “The quote was 'I just don't think she has the presidential look.'" The moderator certainly showed a dogged determination in getting answers — when it came to Trump. On the birther issue, he repeatedly grilled: 

HOLT: Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledge what most Americans have accepted for years: the President was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long? 

...

HOLT: The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You continued to tell the story and question the President's legitimacy in 2012, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, as recently as January. So, the question is what changed your mind?     


Yet, there were no questions about the Clinton Foundation. No questions about Clinton’s health. The e-mail scandal came up only because of Trump. He attacked, “I will release my tax returns, against my lawyer's wishes, when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted.” 

This prompted Holt to meekly ask Clinton: “He also raised the issue of your e-mails. You want to respond to that?” There was no follow-up after that. 

When the subject came to security, there was no analysis of Clinton’s judgment on Libya, Benghazi or Iraq. Instead, it was Trump who got hammered: 

HOLT: Mr. Trump, with a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your judgment — 

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq. 

HOLT: 2002 — 

TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her because she frankly I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

HOLT: My question is since you supported it, why is your judgment — 

TRUMP: Would you like to hear? I was against —  wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out. 

HOLT: The record shows otherwise. 

Prior to the debate, the Clinton campaign repeatedly worked the refs to get tougher questions for Trump. In the case of Lester Holt, the strategy worked. 

A transcript of all the questions can be found below: 

Debate questions
9/26/16

9:04

LESTER HOLT: We're calling this opening segment achieving prosperity and central to that is jobs. There are two economic realities in America today. There's been a record six straight years of job growth and new census numbers show incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation. However, income inequality remains significant and nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Beginning with you, Secretary Clinton, why are you a better choice than your opponent to create the kinds of jobs that will put more money into the pockets of American workers? 

...

9:13

HOLT:  Let me follow-up with Mr. Trump, if I can. You have talked about creating 25 million jobs and promised to bring back millions of jobs for Americans. How are you going to bring back the industries that have left this country for cheaper labor overseas? How, specifically, are you going to tell American manufacturers that you have to come back? 

9:14

HOLT: Back to the question, though, how do you bring back, specifically bring back jobs? American manufacturers? How do you make them bring the jobs back? 

...

9:26

HOLT: You are unpacking a lot here. We're still on the issue of achieving prosperity. And I want to talk about taxes. The fundamental difference between the two of you concerns the wealthy. Secretary Clinton, you're calling for a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. I'd like you to further defend that. Mr. Trump, you're calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. I'd like you to defend that. This next two-minute answer goes to you, Mr. Trump. 

...

9:31

HOLT:  Mr. Trump, we're talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns and the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so 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? 

...

9:32

HOLT:  The IRS says an audit of your taxes — you're perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. So the question, does the public's right to know outweigh your personal — 

...

9:36

HOLT:  He also —  he also raised the issue of your e-mails. You want to respond to that? 

...

9:42

HOLT: We're well behind schedule, so I want to move to our next segment. We move into our next segment talking about America's direction. Let's start by talking about race. A share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it's been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African-Americans by police as we've seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap. So how do you heal the divide? Secretary Clinton, you get two minutes on this. 

...

9:48

HOLT: Your two minutes has expired. 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. 

TRUMP: No, you're wrong. It went before a judge who was a very-against-police judge. It was taken away from her and our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won on appeal. If you look at it throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.  

HOLT: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling. 

...

9:53

HOLT: Secretary Clinton, last week you said we've got do everything possible to improve policing to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe that police are implicitly biased against black people? 

...

9:59

HOLT: Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks you acknowledge what most Americans have accepted for years, the President was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long? 

...

9:59

HOLT: I'll let you respond. That's important. I want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You continued to tell the story and question the President's legitimacy in 2012, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, as recently as January. So, the question is what changed your mind?     

...

10:01

HOLT: I'm sorry, I'm just going to follow up.  I will let you respond to that. There's a lot there. We're talking about racial healing in this segment. What do you say to Americans — 

...

10:06

HOLT: Our next segment is called Securing America. We want to start with a 21st century war happening every day in this country. Our institutions are under cyber attack and our secrets are being stolen. So my question is who's behind it and how do we fight it? Secretary Clinton, this answer goes to you.         

...

10:13

HOLT: You mentioned ISIS and we think of ISIS certainly as over there, but there are American citizens who have been inspired to commit acts of terror on American soil. The latest incident, of course, the bombings we just saw in New York and New Jersey. The knife attack at a mall in Minnesota. And the last year, deadly attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando. I'll ask this to both of you. Tell us specifically how you would prevent homegrown attacks by American citizens? Mr. Trump? 

...

10:19

HOLT: Mr. Trump, with a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your judgment — 

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq. 

HOLT: 2002 — 

TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her because she frankly I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

HOLT: My question is since you supported it, why is your judgment — 

TRUMP: Would you like to hear? I was against —  wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out. 

HOLT: The record shows otherwise. But why — 

TRUMP:  The record does not show — 

HOLT: Why is your judgment any — 

...

10:22

HOLT: My reference was what you had said in 2002. My question was — 

TRUMP: No, no. You didn't hear what I said. 

HOLT: Why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton's?  

...

10:27

HOLT: Which leads to my next question as we enter our last segment here on the subject of securing America. On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation's longstanding policy on first use. Do you support the current policy? Mr. Trump, you have two minutes on that. 

...

10:33

HOLT: 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? 

TRUMP: She doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina. I said she doesn't have the stamina. And I don't believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina. 

HOLT: The quote was "I just don't think she has the presidential look.” 

...

10:37

HOLT: One of you, one of you will not win this election. So my final question to you tonight, are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voter? Secretary Clinton. 

Tell the Truth 2016

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.