So the first presidential debate has concluded and the verdict is in: NBC News host and moderator Lester Holt got the message, go after Donald Trump. If you liked Mr. Trump before the contest, you probably think he withstood the fire just fine. If you preferred Hillary Clinton, she’s clearly the winner. Bottom line: No independent minds have been changed. Here’s the debate round-up, graded, from Mr. Holt and the candidates, to the school.
Lester Holt: F
Mr. Holt was anything but moderate. Mr. Trump got the most pointed questions all night, on racist stop-and-frisk, birtherism, his tax returns, Mrs. Clinton’s “stamina” and being the first woman president. Mrs. Clinton’s email server? Not so much. FBI investigation? Nada. Pay for play allegations with the Clinton Foundation? Not worth it. Nearly all of Mr. Holt’s follow-up questions were directed at Mr. Trump, not Mrs. Clinton. Most of his interruptions were of Mr. Trump. Lesson learned? Going after the referees paid off. Mrs. Clinton’s team signaled they wanted a “fact-checked” debate that would pound Mr. Trump, and they got it.
Hillary Clinton: B+
Mrs. Clinton was in solid command of the policy and facts, and came prepared, like anticipated. She got in her jabs against Mr. Trump’s chauvinism, his birtherism crusade, tax returns, business failings and lawsuits. Mrs. Clinton’s plan to fight ISIS registered as clear and presidential, although her take on Iran, not so much. She was on attack, on issue after issue, placing Mr. Trump on the defensive. She had stamina, didn’t cough or show any physical weakness, and looked composed. So in that regard, she won.
Donald Trump: B
NOW: Who won the first presidential debate?
Mr. Trump started the debate strong, speaking on his outsider status, and reiterating he’s the change candidate. Mr. Trump scored points when he said Mrs. Clinton has been in public life for 30 years, and yet doesn’t have a record she can run on. He jabbed her for flip-flopping on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, and cast doubts she would be against it if she were elected into office. Mr. Trump made inroads on how Mrs. Clinton wants to over-regulate businesses and how that will stifle the economy. However, he whiffed by not bringing up Mrs. Clinton’s email server when asked about cybersecurity, and others with the Clinton Foundation, and her trust issues with the public. Bottom line: Mr. Trump missed many chances to go on offensive, and should’ve known Mr. Holt wouldn’t be there to help him out. What he needed to do tonight was get over the commander-in-chief bar with independents. Did he do it? That’s not so clear. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing he has two more debates.
Hofstra University: F
Trigger warnings, when it comes to the presidential debates, is a fail. Hofstra students who were at the school’s student union pre-debate gathering were greeted with a sign that said: “Trigger Warning: The event conducted just beyond this sign may contain triggering and/or sensitive material. Sexual violence, sexual assault, and abuse are some topics mentioned within this event. If you feel triggered, please know there are resources to support you.” Civic duty is obviously threatening to Hofstra University.