With the first showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump officially less than a month away, the first presidential debate moderator has been announced, and it makes a whole lot of sense. Lester Holt, the NBC Nightly News anchor, has already been practicing for this role of a lifetime, as he's moderated a primary debate between the Democratic candidates back in January.
Holt was widely praised after that debate, because he was one of the first moderators to bring up questions regarding issues that are absolutely crucial in the United States. From Black Lives Matter to gun control, Holt pressed Clinton and her then-challengers, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, on the issues that had so far gone mostly unmentioned. The debate, which took place in Charleston, South Carolina, included a question about the death of Walter Scott, raising comments from the candidates about systemic racism in America.
There are just three presidential debates, and while Holt will take the first on by himself, Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN will co-moderate the second, while Chris Wallace of Fox News will moderate the third. According to The New York Times, while these moderators have practice moderating primary debates, it will be the first presidential debate for every single one of them.
The moderators are selected by the nonprofit and non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates. According to its news release, Holt will be moderating at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and will be moderating six 15-minute sections. Oh, and he gets to choose the topics for each of those six sessions. So, it's safe to say that the presidential debate season is going to start off very strong. Holt will surely pick six of the most crucial topics, and he certainly won't go easy on either candidate. According to the CPD:
As always, the moderators alone will select the questions to be asked, which are not known to the CPD or to the candidates. The moderators will have the ability both to extend the segments and to ensure that the candidates have equal speaking time. While the focus will properly be on the candidates, the moderator will regulate the conversation so that thoughtful and substantive exchanges occur.
Holt has serious experience as a journalist, having worked as a reporter and anchor since 1981. He's more than qualified for the job, and if his performance moderating the Democratic debate is any indication, he won't shy away from making the candidates answer things they might not want to.