Matt Lauer has been met with a firestorm of criticism for his lackluster performance during his televised forum with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. Journalists and viewers alike are taking the longtime NBC anchor to task for his handling of Trump’s portion of the event, in which he failed to pose tough questions or follow up on blatant falsehoods, such as the GOP nominee’s thoroughly debunked claim that he opposed the Iraq War before it started.
“I heard Hillary Clinton say that I was not against the war in Iraq,” Trump said during the forum. “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look before that.” As many outlets, including Mother Jones, have reported, Trump did in fact support the Iraq war. Yet Lauer failed to push back, instead gliding to the next question about concerns over Trump’s “temperament.” Questions about former campaign chief Paul Manafort, whose work for a pro-Russian political party and Ukraine, and other controversial lobbying clients contributed to his recent ouster, Trump’s attacks on the Khan family, or his own military deferments were nowhere to be found.
The silver lining is that Lauer won’t be moderating any of the upcoming presidential debates. But with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, one of the four journalists who was indeed picked, already balking at his job to be the “truth squad,” the final push to November is looking ever more excruciating.