NBC executives were no more pleased with Matt Lauer’s performance during the Commander-in-Chief forum last night than Twitter users were. One unidentified executive, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter, summed up the performance in a word.
CNN reports that a few unanswered questions as well as some blatantly obvious follow-up questions that should have been asked of Trump rubbed executives, news pundits, and viewers the wrong way.
‘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.’
One theory presented for Lauer’s poor performance was a lack of preparation, but CNN notes that Lauer had more than a week to prepare. His interview skills have long since been proven, Lauer has interviewed hundreds of people on national television. Matt Lauer should have been the most prepared person on the planet for these two short interviews.
Another theory is that NBC executives were afraid to dig in to Trump after the GOP outrage over CNBC’s handling of the Republican primary debate last fall, after which the GOP refused to participate in another debate for CNBC.
One CNN source said that the blame was at least partly NBC News and MSNBC chairman, Andy Lack’s. CNN wrote that Lack “was intimately involved in the forum planning and execution” and their source said that “this should be a black eye for Lack.” The two have been friends for many years and Lack passed over suggestions for the role of interviewer like Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, and Chuck Todd in favor of Matt Lauer.
Those who participated in the forum reported also being disappointed in Matt Lauer’s performance and the forum, in general. U.S. veteran and author Dave Cullen, who sat in on the forum last night, summed up his feelings when he said:
‘We expected a serious discussion. We left disappointed.’
Regardless of what the reasons were, NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum ended up being an almost pointless exercise in which one presidential candidate answered 14 minutes worth of questions about a debunked scandal and the other got to spew 25 minutes of generalized talking points and campaign slogans.