Our Opinion: Lauer exposes national media's Trump problem


Wednesday night's national security forum didn't reveal much about the presidential candidates, but it did offer a window into the national media's problems covering them.

Host Matt Lauer besieged Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with warmed-over questions about her emails and rushed her through real national security questions. Republican candidate Donald Trump received kid gloves treatment and got away unchallenged with at least one falsehood when he declared: "I was totally against the war in Iraq." He actually came out in favor of it, as did Senator Clinton, to her regret. Unlike Mr. Trump, however, she has owned up to her support and is not trying to lie her way out of it. [The Eagle has endorsed Ms. Clinton for president.]

Mr. Trump claimed he has a private plan for defeating ISIS. Private plan translates to no plan, but Mr. Lauer gave him a pass on his non-answer.

Mr. Lauer, a host of the soft news-oriented "Today" program on NBC, was in over his head, but his problems in dealing fairly with the presidential race are not unique. Secretary of State Clinton is consistently held to a high standard, while Mr. Trump earns praise for getting through a speech without insulting anyone. The media, apparently terrified of accusations of being anti-Trump, bend so far backward they risk becoming anti-Clinton. In Mr. Lauer's case, he may have been afraid that Mr. Trump would give him the Jeb Bush treatment if asked tough questions.

Much of the national media, by treating Mr. Trump as a harmless buffoon, played a role in his becoming the Republican standard-bearer. By failing to call out his lies or call him on his flip-flops and his distortions of his business record, the media is providing voters with a slanted view of the candidates and their qualifications for office.


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