Donald Trump: Debate System Is Rigged

In a series of interviews over the past week, the Republican nominee has asserted that "the system is being rigged" against him. The first of three scheduled debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton will be held on Sept. 26, with NBC's Lester Holt as the journalist questioning the candidates.

NEW YORK (AP) — A week before the first presidential debate, Donald Trump is putting moderators on notice that he’ll be watching to see if they get too rough on him.

In a series of interviews over the past week, the Republican nominee has asserted that “the system is being rigged” against him. The first of three scheduled debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton will be held on Sept. 26, with NBC’s Lester Holt as the journalist questioning the candidates.

“I think it’s terrible,” Trump told Fox News Channel over the weekend. “They want the host to go after Trump.”

His statement is based on criticism NBC’s Matt Lauer received in some circles for being too easy on the Republican in a forum on national security earlier this month. Trump, who called Lauer “very professional,” told CNBC that he believes this puts pressure on other moderators to avoid Lauer’s fate by going after him.

Sports fans know the phenomenon as “working the refs.”

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“Trump’s buddy, the old basketball coach Bobby Knight, used to do this all the time,” said CBS News veteran Bob Schieffer, who moderated a 2012 debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. “He’d throw fits at the referee in the first (10 minutes) and try to make them feel guilty so they’ll give him a break in the (last 10 minutes). That’s all that this is.”

In fact, Trump has twice referenced Knight in recent comments – saying it was his opponents using the former Indiana coach’s tactics.

Schieffer’s advice to this year’s moderators is to “laugh it off.” He believes they are skilled and experienced enough to do that.

“Every moderator is going to get hammered by somebody,” he said. “That’s just life in the National Football League. This is a big-time deal.”

Trump’s tactics could backfire with the public, said Alan Schroeder, author of “Presidential Debates: 50 Years of High-Risk TV.”

“To me, it feels like whining,” said Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University. “These people are running to be president of the United States. They have to deal with a lot of pressure and they have to deal with a lot of circumstances beyond their control … It doesn’t seem very presidential.”

Moderators should avoid reading and participating in stories about the debates, Schroeder said. He believes they should go further and step away from day-to-day coverage of the campaign, which all of the moderators are involved in to some extent. After Holt, there’s a town hall-style debate moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, and a final debate led by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Trump’s opponents have applied pressure, too. David Brock, a Clinton ally and founder of the Media Matters watchdog group, called on the presidential debate commission to drop Wallace because his former boss at Fox, Roger Ailes, is said to be advising Trump. The commission rejected Brock’s request.

Trump last week had singled Cooper out for criticism, in an interview with The Washington Post. Trump has repeatedly tweeted criticism of CNN in general over the last few months.

“He’ll be very biased, very biased,” Trump said. “I don’t think he should be a moderator. I’ll participate, but I don’t think he should be a moderator. CNN is the Clinton News Network, and Anderson Cooper, I don’t think he can be fair.”

Cooper and CNN declined comment.

 


Comments (11)

Leave a Reply

kendra campbell says:

September 20, 2016 at 8:33 am

The usual Orange Man-baby drivel.

    Cameron Miller says:

    September 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Stop calling Trump a baby and go away!

Bruce Morrison says:

September 20, 2016 at 9:29 am

He’s right though..

    Gene Johnson says:

    September 20, 2016 at 9:44 am

    He’s not even close to right. All Trump is doing is trying to set things up to make whatever claim or excuse he wants if the debate doesn’t go well for him. Of course, he’ll do that anyway.

Marilyn Hyder says:

September 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

Here we go: Whiner in Chief. Someone needs to give this cry baby a time-out.

    Cameron Miller says:

    September 20, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Stop calling Trump a baby and go away!

Julien Devereux says:

September 20, 2016 at 11:10 am

Step one of Trump pussy-ing out of the debates. It must be obvious to even him that Clinton, in a debate, will chew him up and spit out the cheeto pieces.

    kendra campbell says:

    September 20, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Very little is “obvious” to Trump. He will do the usual insulting, interrupting, and word salad. Can’t wait for one of HRC’s great laughs directed towards one of Orange Man-Baby’s monumentally stupid statements. He’ll have a meltdown like the Wicked Witch of the West.

    Cameron Miller says:

    September 20, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Stop calling Trump a baby and go away!

Ellen Samrock says:

September 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

Of course, it’s rigged. You get a panel of moderators who are Clinton supporters and you end up with puff ball questions for her and hard ball questions to him. That’s why the Matt Lauer interview was so good. It’s probably the last time we’ll ever see any hard ball questions pitched to Clinton. Here’s the test: when the debate is on, count the number of hard ball questions thrown at Clinton vs. those to Trump. I think you’ll see that the ratio will be stacked against the man (hey, are Clinton supporters being sexist? Hmm.)

    alicia farmer says:

    September 20, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Newsflash: They get the same questions. Candidate A responds. Candidate B responds. Candidate A rebuttal. Candidate B rebuttal.


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