According to CNN’s Brian Stelter’s inside sources, NBC executives conceded the Commander-in-Chief Military Forum hosted by “Today” host Matt Lauer Wednesday night was a “disaster.”
Lauer has gained widespread criticism from the media for the way he handled both Clinton and Trump’s interviews, Stelter says:
Lauer was widely criticized for failing to fact-check or follow-up when Trump falsely claimed that he was opposed to the Iraq war when it started. Some viewers thought Lauer held Clinton to a higher standard than Trump. Several people who were sitting in the audience told CNN that they were frustrated too.
Audience members at the forum came away with the same feeling as the NBC execs. Veteran and author Dave Cullen, who was in attendance said:
We expected a serious discussion. We left disappointed.
Lauer’s colleagues felt the same. An NBC correspondent said on “Today” that Trump spoke “almost exclusively in generalities.” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” guest from the Council on Foreign Relations president, Richard Haass, said the interview was “frustrating.”
Lauer had a full week to prepare for the forum and beat out other colleagues such as Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, and Andrea Mitchell. The candidates decided on the time structure, so the fast-paced interview wasn’t Lauer’s fault, but that still doesn’t justify that Clinton was forced to spend 14 minutes on the email issue, while Trump was allowed to spew generalities and slogans for 25 minutes.
The failure is not fully on Lauer’s shoulders, NBC News and MSNBC chairman. Andy Lack, helped Lauer prepare for the forum. One of the NBC inside sources said:
This should be a black eye for Lack.
In debates, typically the candidates fact check each other. In a forum, the onus is on the interviewer, in this case, Lauer, who failed to fact check Trump repeatedly. Lauer failed to check Trump on the reality that at one point, Trump very publicly supported the Iraq War. When Trump criticized President Obama for pulling out of Iraq, Lauer failed to point out those were the terms created under the Bush Administration. When Trump was asked about the problem of sexual assault in the military, Trump kept referring to “doing something” about it, though he never said what that something may be and Lauer never pressed the issue. When Trump said we should have taken Iraq’s oil, Lauer questioned that comment more like it presented a logistical issue rather than a what it really is — another war crime Trump was advocating. Trump was also again allowed to keep his plans for ISIS secret.
But damn that Hillary Clinton and her email scandal that’s been beaten to death by the media.
Let’s hope the media learns their lesson from this awful forum and sticks to substantive topics and fact checks them in real time.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Justin Sullivan