NEW YORK (UPI) — Critics are slamming NBC Today show host Matt Lauer’s handling of a presidential forum Wednesday night, accusing him of lobbing softball questions to Republican nominee Donald Trump and lashing Democrat Hillary Clinton with questions about her emails.
Lauer, moderating the “Commander-In-Chief Forum,” was panned by some political pundits who took to Twitter. Lauer sat for a face-to-face with each candidate for 30 minutes during the forum, seen as a forerunner to the presidential debates. He devoted about a third of his time with Clinton to questioning her about her use of a private email server and seemed to rush through topics that included domestic terrorism.
When one audience member asked Clinton to detail her plan to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, Lauer told her to speak, “as briefly as you can.”
Guy Cecil, co-chair and chief strategist of Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting Clinton, criticized Lauer for spending too much time talking about the email scandal during a forum meant to address the military and foreign policy.
“I take no issue with asking Hillary tough questions, but with all of the global challenges, this is a waste of time,” he tweeted.
And there was more outcry during Lauer’s segment with Trump. After hounding Clinton on her emails, Lauer seemed to ask Trump open-ended questions that he easily evaded or ignored, CNN reported.
“I don’t blame Lauer for asking the email question. But it’s absurd that he started off with Trump, ‘Why should you be commander-in-chief?'” Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Lauer perhaps took the most heat when Trump said he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Trump, in a 2002 interview with radio personality Howard Stern, said he would support an invasion. Lauer didn’t bring up this discrepancy.
“How in the hell does Lauer not factcheck Trump lying about Iraq? This is embarrassingly bad,” said Tommy Vietor, former national security spokesman for Obama.
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