Moderating a high-profile political debate or forum, not unlike being the umpire in a playoff baseball game, is a role most often talked about the next day when things don't go quite so well.
Such was the case Thursday morning for
The two presidential nominees weren't on stage together, thrusting Lauer, the long-time Today show co-anchor, even more into the center of the action as he questioned Trump and Clinton on national security issues.
So what went wrong? Here's one take from The New York Times on Lauer's handling of the Clinton segment
"Lauer devoted about a third of his time with Mrs. Clinton to questions about her use of a private email server, then seemed to rush through subsequent queries about weighty topics like domestic terror attacks."
As for his questioning of Trump, here's The Times' assessment:
"Mr. Trump stormed onstage in his familiar motor-mouth style, often talking over Mr. Lauer and declining to directly answer many of his questions. At times, Mr. Lauer — who has conducted fewer adversarial interviews with Mr. Trump than his colleagues on
One point The Times and others honed in on was the fact that Lauer did not challenge Trump on his assertion, which he's made throughout the campaign, that he'd opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. In fact, when asked by
What's more, while Lauer did ask the GOP presidential nominee about "things that you later regret," he didn't press Trump on some of his most provocative remarks. CNNMoney writes:
"Perhaps most notable were the questions Lauer did not ask of Trump. At an event geared toward national security and military veterans, the NBC co-host failed to ask a single question about Trump's controversial remarks about Gold Star parents
Khizrand Ghazala Khan, Sen. John McCain's prisoner-of-war status or his deferments from the Vietnam War, among other issues."
Reaction seemed to be that Lauer generally took a more aggressive posture toward Clinton — focusing on the controversy over her emails — than Trump. People magazine writes:
"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."
The Times did note that Lauer pushed Trump on a controversial 2013 Twitter message the real estate mogul wrote where he argued sexual assaults in the armed services were an unsurprising byproduct of men and women being allowed to serve alongside one another in the military. Trump on Wednesday night told Lauer he thought his message then was "correct."
But by and large, the assessments of Lauer were not kind, and as you would expect, Twitter had no shortage of reviews of his performance, leading to the hashtag #LaueringTheBar. Here's a sampling:
#LaueringTheBar Even Putin wouldn't mind being interviewed by Matt Lauer.— Rich (@RichNj5) September 8, 2016