Thursday, September 8, 2016

Matt Lauer's Emailer in Chief Forum

I guess we were mislead on last night's forum. At least in Hillary's half of the debate, Matt Lauer didn't talk about foreign policy or veterans' issues much at all. He did spend a lot of time playing gotcha on emails.

"Welcome to the Emailer-In-Chief forum."

"Email debate is a bit unreal. Material is routinely over-classified, and diplomats use private email addresses often. #NBCNewsForum"

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America laid out the context the media never allows us to draw:

"entire email charade was An Inter-Agency Squabble Re: FOIA Releases That Was Going To Happen Regardless Of Clinton's Email/Server. Period."

His very first question was not just about her email server but demanded she prove the negative of why that doesn't disqualify her from being Commander in Chief. Overall, Lauer's posture with Hillary was hyper aggressive.

He asked these leading do you still beat your grandmother questions and act fidgety while she answered as if he was impatient to ask as the next gotcha. Not only was he overly aggressive with her-with Trump he was not fidgety and didn't interrupt once-but he simply did a bad job of clock management. Arguably 30 minutes is was not enough time in any case for these complex issues.

But by spending so much time on her emails, there was little time for anything substantive.

Peter Dauo:

"Just think about media intentionality: If @MLauer hadn't asked about #Hillary's emails, he would have had time to ask real policy questions."

Even after the email section of the Q&A was done, Lauer's questions hardly got more substantive. Mostly he just played more gotcha, this time on her vote for the Iraq War and her support for Libya.

I'm not saying these were not at all substantive questions but again with 30 minutes you have to focus and it seems to me it would have been more substantive if not every question was an accusation.

After the show, Rachel Maddow had an interesting discussion with the audience of veterans. When they made comments they did not focus on gotcha questions. Voters are not focused on the gotcha but you'd never get it from the media. Certainly Lauer didn't handle his time with Hillary well. Every question was simply a gotcha rather than a question which tries to really tease out what a Commander in Chief Hillary Clinton would be like.

I will talk about his Trump interview more in a subsequent post this morning. For now, let me just say that I agree with Josh Marshall: while Lauer did let Trump get away with lying about opposing the Iraq war and Libya intervention, Trump ended up looking pretty bad regardless whether or not it was Lauer's intention.

So I would grade his Q&A with Trump a little higher than Clinton's. Her Q&A, I agree, was a bad job for Lauer.

Which is not to say his Q&A with Trump was optimum. Far from it. There were a number of things he left out. In some ways I thought he still got a lot from it as we clearly saw there's no reason to have any confidence Trump is up to the job.

However, for him not to ask about Trump's attack on the Khan family was malpractice.

Paul Begalia had the line of the night.

"If only Trump had attacked that Gold Star family in an email, then it would be newsworthy to Lauer."

Clearly we liberals made an impression in our critique of Lauer. Politico put together a collage of some liberal criticisms on Twitter.

"Liberals lash out at Lauer, NBC."

UPDATE: Karen Tumulty:

"Per Clinton/Powell exchange about Blackberries. Here's my 8/15 story on what Obama does. All emails go to archivist."

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