It was a richness of embarrassment in the first presidential debate held Monday, Sept. 26. I think it is safe to say that most people went into this debate expecting a shouting match between two unlikable hypocrites glancing over the actual problems going on in our country.
It is not only unfortunate to say that the debate went exactly as most of us predicted, but it is dismaying that the person who was supposed to ensure fairness and order at this event failed to do so.
Short and simple, Dateline NBC anchor Lester Holt did an incredibly poor job at this debate by being both safe and even somewhat one-sided throughout. Holt did little to keep the candidates under control by not giving both candidates the same treatment, and not getting answers to Americans’ burning questions.
Yet, his performance at this debate speaks to a much larger problem in the media that there is an inherent bias toward the Democratic side, which in turn produces counterproductive debates.
When the debate started, Holt asked each candidate about their stance on job creation. This was a strong start to the debate as he was non-partisan and let each candidate have plenty of time to give a detailed answer. However, that soon gave way to Holt asking Republican nominee Donald Trump multiple questions on controversies surrounding him while never giving Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the same treatment.
It is good that Holt asked Trump about his taxes and the birther issue, but Clinton has just as many controversies surrounding her which are more damning than that of Trump. The fact that Holt did not attempt to question Clinton exemplifies the preferential treatment the media gives the Democrats.
By not being fair to each candidate, Holt gave many disgruntled Americans the impression that the media will go easy on Democrats and do what they can to help Clinton win. Biased attitudes are the exact opposite of what the media is supposed to promote. Media should present a fair, balanced praise or criticism for all candidates of both political parties.
Yet, the bias of the media and Holt’s partisan approach to this debate speaks volumes to how this whole presidential campaign has played out. Most of Hollywood has publicly spoken out against Trump, trashing him and spewing insults at him every chance they can get.
In fact, further proof of this bias comes from a recently released voter registration advertisements which starred the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. The purpose of the advertisement was seemingly to persuade people to register to vote, but it dissolved into the celebrities painting Trump as some evil villain that the public needs to save the country from.
I understand individuals having their opinions, but those sorts of advertisements are dangerous in the message they promote. That advertisement is not telling people to freely vote for who they want to be elected. It is telling the public that you are a bad person if you support Trump, and you would be responsible for the country’s downfall if he is elected. It is manipulative and guilt trip-driven advertisement of the highest order, practically bordering on propaganda.
We need the media to exhibit non-partisan promotions of each presidential candidate. The public cannot be manipulated or scared into voting for someone they do not want because it suits the agenda of others. There cannot be a debate where hard questions are only directed toward one candidate. There has to be fairness and respect on each side — that way we can work together to solve the issues going on in our country. With less than two months before the election, one can only hope that the second and third presidential debates will exhibit that fair, non-partisan mentality that is the foundation of our democracy.