Republican nominee takes another pre-emptive strike at supposedly “unfair” and “rigged” debate process
Since NBC’s Matt Lauer received widespread criticism for failing to fact-check Donald Trump at Wednesday night’s presidential forum, members of the public and press have been urging moderators for the upcoming debates to do better.
If the GOP nominee lies about being a vocal opponent of the Iraq War, as he did Wednesday and throughout the 2016 campaign, for instance, he should be called out.
Trump responded Monday to the Lauer controversy, and growing calls for the TV journalists steering the debates to challenge Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s falsehoods, by proposing there should be no moderators at all.
“I think, maybe, we should have no moderator,” Trump said on CNBC. “Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate. I think the system is being rigged so it’s going to be a very unfair debate. And I can see it happening right now. Everyone’s saying that [Lauer] was soft on Trump. Well now, the new person’s going to try and be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do. So, I think it’s very unfair what they’re doing. I think we should have a debate with no moderators, just Hillary and I sitting there talking.”
Trump presumably can’t really expect the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates to tear up its entire debate process and remove the moderators. But the Republican nominee’s pre-emptive complaints about “unfairness” could be an effective way of giving the moderators pause before aggressively challenging him ― also known as working the refs. Such pre-debate gripes could also be used to try to explain away a poor performance.