Some have called it trying to "game the ref." In the run-up to tonight's Presidential debate both candidates' camps have made it clear how they'd like NBC to run the debate, particularly when it comes to keeping both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump honest in real time. Will NBC fact check the presidential debate? The pressure is on moderator Lester Holt to strike just the right balance.
The Clinton campaign has argued Holt has a responsibility to fact check Trump during the debate.
"But we are concerned that Donald Trump may lie, he may throw misinformation out there, and that Hillary will have to spend all of her time trying to correct the record rather than talking about the things she wants to accomplish,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said on CBS This Morning, according to Politico. "All that we’re asking is that the record be checked, so if Donald Trump lies, which he has repeatedly done in the past, that that be simply checked."
Trump, on the other hand, would prefer the moderator just let the two candidates go at each other without interruption. He said, according to the Washington Post, that if any of the moderators were to treat him poorly, they would get hammered by his rabid supporters.
This whole notion of moderators fact checking became a thing as a result of one moment during the 2012 campaign when moderator Candy Crowley pointed out that Mitt Romney was falsely accusing President Obama of not calling the Benghazi attacks an "act of terror" in the wake of the attack, the Post reported. (Obama had called them an act of terror.) But despite the fact Crowley was correct, she was viciously attacked by Romney's supporters — something that was clearly not lost on Trump and that Trump emphasized as a reason moderators should stay silent. Trump told the Post in an interview about the upcoming debate:
But I certainly don’t think you want Candy Crowley again. I really don’t think you want that. That was a very pivotal moment in that debate. And it really threw the debate off. And it was unfair. So I don’t think you want that. No, I think you have to have somebody that just lets ’em argue it out.
In the same Post interview, Trump also referenced the criticism fellow NBC journalist Matt Lauer got after not correcting Trump's statements during the "Commander in Chief Forum" in early September.
One of the main criticisms of Lauer, according to CNN, is that he didn't seem prepared. That's not a chance Holt is taking; CNN said he's been working with a team of journalists and wonks at NBC for days to get ready. And when it comes to whether he will fact check or not, Holt isn't talking. Everyone will have to wait until the big debate to see.
But one source who works at NBC gave CNN this clue about how he'll handle Clinton and Trump during the debate: "Lester isn't going to be a potted plant."