Matt Lauer was accused of lobbing easy questions to Trump while Clinton was grilled about her email scandal

By Stephanie Petit
September 08, 2016 09:30 AM

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in their first joint event in the presidential race, but host Matt Lauer is the one who seems to be getting the most criticism.

At NBC’s “Commander-in-Chief Forum” Wednesday evening, Lauer was accused by some Democrats of spending too much time on Clinton’s email scandal and failing to fact-check Trump for several claims – including that he always opposed the Iraq War.

The hashtag #LaueringTheBar even began trending on Twitter.

Lauer opened his questioning of Clinton, who spoke first in the pre-debate forum, with the controversy over her private email server. He remained on the topic for 13 minutes of the 30-minute allotted time.

Critics say because the Today host dedicated so much time to the scandal, he was forced to rush through weighty policy topics – for example, Lauer later told Clinton to be “brief” in answering a question on ISIS because time was running short.

While the former Secretary of State was interrogated on her controversy, viewers felt Lauer neglected to question Trump with the same fervor, often giving him open-ended questions.

Donald Trump (left) and Matt Lauer
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Jon Favreau, the former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, “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?'”

When Trump claimed, “We’re going to have to set up a court system within the military,” Lauer let the comment slide – instead of asking Trump if he knew the military already has its own court system.

The biggest uproar on social media occurred when the Republican candidate falsely claimed he “was totally against the war in Iraq” – and Lauer offered no push-back.

“I have great judgement,” Trump said. “You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that. And I was against the war in Iraq. I said it’s going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has.”

Many, including the host network, were quick to point out that Trump had previously showed support for the invasion of Iraq.

Buzzfeed uncovered a September 2002 interview with Howard Stern where Trump voices his support.

After being asked if he was for the invasion, Trump responded: “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

While Trump thanked media outlets for their positive reviews at the forum, Clinton continued to defend herself.

In response to a tweet that called the Democratic nominee “angry + defensive the entire time – no smile and uncomfortable – upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets,” Clinton wrote, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.”

On Thursday, President Barack Obama called for voters for to reject Trump’s “outright wacky ideas” during a press conference in Laos.

“As far as Mr. Trump, I think I’ve already offered my opinion,” Obama said. “I don’t think the guy’s qualified to be president of the United States and every time he speaks that opinion is confirmed.

“The most important thing for the public and press is to just listen to what he says and follow up and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright wacky ideas.”

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