Anyone watching last night's MSNBC "Commander In Chief" presidential forum must have felt pretty perplexed on the conduct of host Matt Lauer.
The NY Times wrote: "Lauer, as Moderator, Presses Clinton but Surrenders to Trump"
A hashtag named #LaueringTheBar immediately trended on Twitter.
He spent almost half of Clinton's time going over the same "email" questions that have been asked and answered and investigated over and over again. And when HRC tried to give a detailed response to other serious questions, Lauer cut her off to move on.
And during Trump's segment, it was many of the audience questions that forced Trump to say some truly bizarre things. Yes, it was a shocking example of the beltway media's ineptitude when covering Donald Trump.
At first, the only criticisms you heard about Lauer's performance was that he failed to fact check Trump's lie that he never supported the Iraq war. This is correct, especially since Hillary raised the issue during her segment, but he was much worse than that one gaffe.
As a prelude of things to come to the treatment of Trump, on Tuesday, September 6, CNN's Dana Bash gave this analysis of the upcoming presidential debates in stating an unfair advantage for Donald Trump:
But I do think that the stakes are much higher in this debate and all the debates for Hillary Clinton because the expectations are higher for her because she is a seasoned politician, she is a seasoned debater.
Yes, we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. So for lots of reasons, maybe it's not fair but it's the way it is, the onus is on her.
CNN's Gloria Borger said after last night's forum, "it's what we expect from him," so no harm to foul.
He would have been bounced out of the TV show, "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" in a matter of minutes if you listened to him, but since Trump didn't commit a foul, it's fine. By the way, what type of foul was she looking for?
The NY Times Maggie Haberman tweeted this last night:
Since Trump got asked many softball questions and skated through it all easily, he did swimmingly.
It's beyond belief really that the beltway media would be treating political candidates vying for the highest office in the land through two separate lenses. One has to climb through hoops and the other just doesn't have to urinate on stage.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" crew opened up their show this morning and exposed that same hole in the beltway media's handling of both presidential candidates as they discussed last night's forum.
Joe Scarborough remarked, "I thought Donald Trump spoke in generalities and I think Hillary Clinton was peppered with very specific questions. It's something that people have been complaining about on this show for a very long time. Donald Trump is held to a lower standard. He just is. Nobody expects him to know the specifics of policy, so they don't push him on it."
Mike Barnicle then replied, "I give Hillary Clinton a B-minus. I flunk Donald Trump for a staggering lack of depth, lack of knowledge. He is the, as you pointed out, the beneficiary, continued beneficiary of a huge double standard. Hillary Clinton was asked some tough questions, had difficulty answering those tough questions. Donald Trump was interviewed again as if he were the co-host or the host of The Apprentice."
I must confess, I didn't see this special treatment coming.
Many in the media thought Trump's initial candidacy was a joke, but as the GOP presidential primaries pushed on and Trump held his lead in the polls, the media treated Trump like a real Republican candidate battling a host of other Republicans trying to become the Republican presidential nominee.
But in the general election they've already decided to grade Trump on a slanted curve.
Nobody is forcing them to do this either. It's unfair, undignified and it's hurting our democratic process.
Brian Buetler writes for The New Republic in "The Media Coverage of Hillary Clinton Is Out of Whack": "The problem isn't the scrutiny of her emails or the Clinton Foundation, but treating such sins as comparable to Donald Trump's."
CNN's media critics: "Critics blast Lauer's 'Commander-in-Chief Forum' performance"
Even NBC's executives were horrified by Lauer's performance: "NBC execs concede Matt Lauer forum performance was 'disaster'"
Is there a positive to Matt Lauer's horrendous performance last night?
Trump is spending most of his time on Fox News these days to avoid having to answer any real questions, but when he does show up on other networks, including the presidential debates, let's hope other moderators won't want to face a public humiliation like Matt has suffered.
They all have egos to go along with their job descriptions.
Chris Wallace, a presidential debate moderator made headlines by saying, "I do not believe that it's my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that."
After watching Chris Wallace of late, I doubt he'll ask questions as befuddling or let Trump get away with answers and outright lies like we saw last night.
"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, has a lot to prepare for.
ABC News' chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz and CNN's Anderson Cooper are seasoned TV veterans and would not welcome the stain of being nationally shamed.
Who knows, maybe Lauer performed a great service to us in the end by failing so badly.
Crossposted at Crooksandliars.com.