This is so very unsurprising.
Considering Donald Trump laid the groundwork heading into Monday night’s presidential debate, inaccurately labeling moderator Lester Holt a Democrat (Holt’s a Republican), it was a given that conservatives would aim their arrows at Holt should Trump bomb.
And bomb he did.
Thus, the day after Trump couldn’t even clear the floor-level bar that was set for him heading into the debate, the accusations of media bias — conservatives favorite excuse — were lobbed at Holt. Trump himself went on Fox & Friends (natch) and claimed that he wasn’t trying to complain (of course not) but Holt’s questions were very unfair. This presented the opening for others to embrace this talking point and move forward.
Trump surrogate and Mr. 9-11 Rudy Giuliani, who the night before said perhaps Trump should skip the rest of the debates, also spoke to the curvy couch-sitters. He complained about Holt fact-checking Trump on the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk, saying it was “unethical” for a moderator to do that. (He also said Holt was “dead wrong” in his fact-check, which is, of course, dead wrong.)
But it wasn’t just the Trump campaign openly complaining about Holt’s supposed partisanship (again, he’s a Republican) and kid-glove treatment of Hillary Clinton. Conservative reporters and pundits jumped on the ‘Blame Holt’ train.
The Hill’s Joe Concha, a longtime whiner about liberal media bias (who has a show on the ultra right-wing Newsmax), wrote a piece stating Holt came out of the debate bruised and partisan. Besides bitching about Holt’s unbalanced fact-checking of Trump, Concha felt the NBC anchor should’ve raised questions about Clinton’s health during the debate. (All while the GOP candidate was wheezing, moaning and sniffling throughout. OK.)
Concha’s former Mediaite colleague Alex Griswold also jumped on the Holt was biased against Trump ship. Griswold, who made sure to note he’s a conservative who does not support Trump, still wanted it to be known that he felt Holt went way too easy on Clinton. Because, y’know, media bias and all. (I love how conservatives who have jobs in the media always complain about how liberal the media is.)
Griswold’s argument was that Holt, after it was revealed he was a registered Republican and in the aftermath of Matt Lauer’s shitty Commander-In-Chief Forum performance, overcompensated by favoring Clinton.
If you’ll allow me to speculate, I believe that Holt simply overcompensated after the blowback Matt Lauer received for letting Trump lie about his support for the Iraq War. I would also speculate that for a newsman of his stature, it may have been somewhat embarrassing for the entire media to be widely discussing the fact that he was a registered Republican. Holt really, really didn’t want to be perceived as too critical of Clinton or overly deferential to Trump, and simply swung too far in the other direction.
Of course, go to Breitbart, and editor Joel Pollack ripped Holt, claiming he stepped in to save her. Unlike Concha and Griswold, he had not one negative word to say about Trump’s performance, instead focusing solely on how Holt threw the debate for Hillary. But what would you expect from Trumpbart?
And then we got Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor proclaiming Holt a liberal who gave Democrats their wish in spinning the debate for Clinton.
Holt reminded viewers he’s liberal – from pushing the birther issue to harassing Trump about his tax returns to a wildly biased question about Clinton as “the first woman nominated by a party” not having “the look.” Clinton skated by with a 15-second response on her emails while Trump was asked repeated follow-up questions while Hillary was not. There was no “deplorables” question and Holt promoted the birther meme without noting its origin in the Clinton camp.
They’ve found their narrative — Holt had it in for Trump. Now we’re going to see it hammered into the ground over the next few days.