NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt is the moderator of the first 2016 presidential debate. Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, has complained that all of the debate moderators are Democrats who are biased against him and that “it’s a phony system.” Is he right? What are Lester Holt’s political views?
Contrary to Trump’s statement, Lester Holt is a registered Republican. NPR Reporter David Folkenflik recently noted on Twitter that New York state voter registration forms show that the NBC anchor has been registered to the GOP since 2003. This is the same year he began working for NBC News full time.
Holt is also a Christian, which he says informs the way he looks at stories although he does not view his newscast as an outlet for his own opinions.
“I cannot separate my faith from who I am any more than I can the color of my skin,” he told The Christian Chronicle. “Both give me greater sensitivity to certain types of stories and also allow me to bring an insider perspective on some issues.”
Holt has also said that it is very important to him that he not delve into his own personal opinion on air, and the information that he is a Republican only came out through a journalist reporting on public records rather than Holt saying anything himself.
Holt told The Christian Chronicle, “One of the hard things for people to wrap their arms around – because they flip around the channels and hear all the opinionated liberal hosts and conservative hosts – is what I do working for the mainstream network. I don’t bring an opinion to the table. In fact, I jealously guard my personal opinion.”
Trump did say at a rally recent that he believes Lester Holt will be fair during the debate but that “a lot of people will be watching to see if that’s true,” according to The Washington Post. Trump fears that after the media backlash to Matt Lauer’s treatment of Trump at a recent town hall, Holt will feel pressured to go after the Republican candidate more aggressively than he would have otherwise.
Lester Holt has been a journalist since 1981, over the years working for CBS, MSNBC, and now NBC. He is generally regarded as an unbiased and fair reporter by both Democrats and Republicans.
After a recent presidential town hall, it was Hillary Clinton who criticized moderator Matt Lauer. Not long after the interview, her campaign sent out an email criticizing Lauer for not, as they put it, calling Trump out.
“At this point, we should understand that we just can’t sit around and wait for fact checkers in the media to keep Trump honest,” the email read, according to CNN.
The second presidential debate will be hosted by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, both of whom are fairly unbiased. The third debate will be hosted by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who works for a conservative network but who is a registered Democrat. Wallace says, however, that this is only for practical purposes because Washington, D.C. is heavily Democratic.
“The reason I’m a registered Democrat is that in Washington, D.C., there is really only one party,” Wallace told The Washington Post in 2006. “If you want a say in who’s going to be the next mayor or councilman, you have to vote in the Democratic primary.”
For more information, read our breakdown of the relationship between Donald Trump and Lester Holt below: