The Hillary Clinton campaign is making a last-minute effort to influence how moderators handle the presidential debates.
The first debate Monday puts NBC News’ Lester Holt front and center as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton square off for the first time. Team Clinton wants Holt to intercede in the debate–and often.
“This is the role of the moderator … to call out those lies, and do it in real time,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters on a conference call. “To not do that is to give Donald Trump a very unfair advantage. Any candidate who tells this many lies clearly can’t win the debate on the merits.”
“His level of lying is unprecedented in American politics,” Palmieri said of Trump.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who is moderating the final debate in Las Vegas, already said that his role is not to be a fact-checker.
But Lester Holt could be problematic. Holt is already drawing scrutiny from conservatives fearing a “Candy Crowley” moment that could swing the debate. Breitbart News reported:
Lester Holt is up first. He gets Trump and Clinton at Hofstra University in New York on September 26.
It was originally supposed to be held at Wright State University in the battleground state of Ohio. But university President David Hopkins had to withdraw due to “rising security costs” of up to $11 million that the college had to pay. Hopkins, chastened, thanked Hofstra for at least allowing 15 Wright State students to attend the debate in New York.
At NBC News, Lester Holt replaced Brian Williams during a time of scandal. But he is working to establish himself as something other than a mere Gerald Ford caretaker of the anchor’s chair.
Holt asked Hillary Clinton if she ever gets her “feelings hurt” due to the Republican attacks on her. Referring to a young person in a town hall event who said that his generation feels Clinton is dishonest, Holt said to Clinton, “And when he said that I winced.”
NewsBusters flagged Holt for a number of comments during the campaign that should make the Trump team very nervous about the primetime exposure that he is getting. Particularly, comments that Holt made when he managed to interview The Donald to his face once at Trump Tower.