Beltway press reviews are in on Matt Lauer’s abysmal performance at NBC News’ Commander-in-Chief Forum last night: Lauer was out of his depth, ill-prepared and sexist, lobbing open ended softballs at a lying, flailing, Donald Trump, never correcting him while performing a hit job on Hillary Clinton. At a forum dedicated to foreign policy, Lauer spent most of his time on – God help me – her emails, questioning her “judgment” and interrupting nearly every answer. He had the cheek to tell her to “keep it brief” as she answered a combat veteran on ISIS – the reason they were there in the first place. Since Lauer’s past conduct (see Ann Curry) showed his arrogance toward women, his behavior came as no surprise.
Lauer practically gave Trump a tongue bath yet showed inordinate disrespect not only to Hillary the woman, but Hillary the stateswoman, who is more accomplished and has more knowledge about foreign policy in her pinky finger than the overpaid Lauer has in his entire body. Perhaps jealous of her expertise, Lauer thought he was thwarting her chance to shine, which she did regardless.
Yet media brethren condemnations of Lauer are tone deaf and exhibit a dangerous lack of self-awareness, since they offer up the same crap he did last night on an ongoing basis.
Shareblue’s Peter Daou shares ample evidence that the media has over-saturated the airwaves with Hillary’s email story, reporting on it in multiple outlets every single day for over a year, holding Clinton to a standard far exceeding that applied to any man, anywhere, ever. So much greater is their punishment of Hillary than this non-crime warrants, he contends, that voters have reached a turning point. Like the Right Wing conspiracy theorists who have long been guilt of overreach in trying to “kill” Hillary, the media is on the verge of doing the same thing – overreaching and building sympathy for her even from those who might otherwise never consider voting for her.
An anecdotal aside, but of interest. Tweeted after Lauer’s Hillary bashfest:
Wasn’t a fan of Hillary. Didn’t vote for her in the primaries. But you know what? Never seen someone handle abuse so stoically. Has my vote.
— Aiden Wolfe (@AidenWolfe) September 8, 2016
Mr. Daou also reminds us “[a]s a proof point, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum writes this compelling passage summarizing the FBI email investigation:
“This [FBI] report is pretty much an almost complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t prohibited from using a personal device or a personal email account, and others at state did it routinely. She’s told the truth all along about why she did it. Colin Powell did indeed advise her about using personal email shortly after she took office, but she chose to follow the rules rather than skirt them, as Powell did. She didn’t take her BlackBerry into her office. She communicated with only a very select group of 13 people. She took no part in deciding which emails were personal before handing them over to State. She had nothing to do with erasing information on the PRN server. That was a screw-up on PRN’s end. She and her staff all believed at the time that they were careful not to conduct sensitive conversations over unclassified email systems. And there’s no evidence that her server was ever hacked. There’s remarkably little here.”
So why does mainstream media persist? They ignore Trump’s racism, xenophobia, embrace of a Russian dictator, corruption (pay to play –AG Pam Bondi, anyone?) and pants-on-fire lies to the point that they act like they want to elect this guy – while trashing the capable Clinton, aching to get her head on a pike.
Trump/Bondi bribery story has completely evaporated after 6 days.
Press has been covering Clinton Emails for 540+ days
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) September 9, 2016
Lauer didn’t mention Trump’s real scandal above any more than the rest of the press has bothered to cover it. Therefore, Lauer spending the bulk of a foreign policy forum on something that has been asked and answered dozens of times echoes the example set for him by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, NYTimes’ Patrick Healy, Amy Chozick, Maggie Haberman, Michael Schmidt, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, WaPo’s Chris Cilizza, — you get the idea.
For mainstream press to blame Lauer for pooping in the punch bowl is grotesque since he only repeated the same smears that they push daily. He just did a piss poor job of it.
Yes, Lauer should hang his overpaid head in shame. NBC pays this man $20 million per year. He can afford to give a damn what reckless President he helps elect. Walled behind his mansion and cypress trees, he can feel smug that he took out the first woman (an eminently qualified one) with a chance to be president. Lauer can fiddle while Rome burns – along with Trump – who’ll be burning it. The rest of us have no such luxury.
Reporters have 2 months until Election Day. Do they want to spend it redeeming themselves? We shall see. But whatever they do going forward, they have no right to pretend Matt Lauer, incompetent or not, was doing anything differently than most of them.