And stop letting Trump say he opposed the battle at Wolf 359!

Americans may not agree on much, but we almost all agree that Matt Lauer did a terrible job of "moderating" Wednesday night's Commander In Chief Forum on MSNBC. Of the 30 minutes he had to interview Hillary Clinton, he devoted a third of it to questions about her damned email server -- supposedly germane to a national security discussion because "Judgment." When a veteran in the audience asked a question about fighting ISIS, Lauer wouldn't even let Clinton begin her answer, stepping on it by reminding her that they were short on time. Because Matt Lauer spent 10 minutes on something that had nothing to do with foreign policy! Lauer constantly interrupted Clinton, either trying to move on to another question before she was finished speaking, or to remind her that the time he had squandered was running short:

“Lauer interrupted Clinton’s answers repeatedly to move on. Not once for Trump,” Norman Ornstein, the political commentator, wrote in a Twitter message, adding: “Tough to be a woman running for president.”

Jonathan Chait nailed it at New York magazine:

Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists [...]

The impression an uninformed or even moderately informed viewer would receive from this interview is that the email issue represents a sinister crime, perhaps completely disqualifying from office, rather than an unjustifiable but routine act of government non-transparency.

When Clinton said the fight against ISIS won't be helped by alienating American Muslims, using as an example Donald Trump's extended attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Lauer interrupted to tsk-tsk her and remind her there was a strict "no talking about the other candidate" rule. Lauer mentioned that rule -- and chastised Clinton for not following it -- at the beginning of Trump's half of the forum, then immediately discarded it during Trump's very first answer, when Lauer allowed Trump to claim Clinton had lied about his supposed opposition to the Iraq War (she hadn't).

How equally did Lauer enforce his "no slagging the opposition" rule? Go search Time's transcript of the forum. During her half-hour, Hillary mentioned the name "Trump" not a single time. (Ever the experienced campaigner, she did mention "my opponent" three times.) Donald Trump? He got in seven mentions of "Hillary Clinton" -- plus another 10 comments, all negative, about "Barack Obama," as well as a gratuitous mention of John Kerry as "another total disaster." Number of times Lauer cautioned Trump that he was violating the "rule"? Zero.

Not terribly surprising, then that the most-Googled question about Donald Trump Thursday morning after the forum was "Is Matt Lauer a Trump supporter?"

Maybe, considering all the stupid shit Trump said, Lauer didn't see any need to call him on it. After all, interrupting would be awfully rude. Besides, at least Trump smiled a little.

[NYT / New York / Vox / Time / The Hill]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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