To: NBC News Anchor Lester Holt, moderator of the first presidential debate and and other presidential debate hosts Martha Raddatz (ABC News), Anderson Cooper (CNN), and Chris Wallace (Fox News)

Ask Lester Holt and other debate moderators to do better than Matt Lauer and fact check Trump's lies

Presidential forum and debate moderators have an obligation to hold candidates accountable and correct misinformation. NBC News and its on-camera personality Matt Lauer botched this job during its September 7 Commander in Chief Forum. Respected NBC anchor Lester Holt, who has a long track record of journalistic integrity, moderates the first presidential debate later this month. We encourage Holt and every other presidential debate moderator–Martha Raddatz (ABC News), Anderson Cooper (CNN), and Chris Wallace (Fox News)–to avoid repeating Lauer's mistakes and to instead ask serious, substantial questions and hold candidates accountable with real-time fact checking of misleading and factually inaccurate statements.

Why is this important?

During this week’s NBC News Commander in Chief Forum--the first joint forum for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump--moderator and "The Today Show" host Matt Lauer failed to do his job as a journalist by not correcting Donald Trump’s lies about never supporting the Iraq War and continuing to ask the Republican candidate soft, open-ended questions.

During the forum on military issues and foreign policy, NBC’s Matt Lauer:

> Failed to hold Donald Trump accountable by allowing him to repeat his lie that he always opposed the Iraq War. (NBC News later fact-checked the comment after the forum and deemed it false.)

> Failed to ask Donald Trump any serious questions about some of the candidate’s most troubling foreign policy comments-- neglecting to address Trump’s attack on Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, his attack on Senator John McCain’s prisoner-of-war status, Trump’s multiple deferments from the Vietnam War,

> Spent one-third of Secretary Clinton’s time pressing her on her use of a private email server--and then asked her to be “brief” responding to questions on ISIS.

Leading journalists agreed that Lauer and NBC failed to give Americans a well-moderated forum by failing to fact check basic falsehoods, mainly Trump’s Iraq War assertion:

"This #NBCNewsForum feels like an embarrassment to journalism.” – New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof

“How can someone like @MLauer not set the record straight on Trump's bogus claim of being against the war in Iraq?” – Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler

"Lauer has done great interviews. But that's one of the weakest, least incisive performances I've seen from a presidential forum moderator.” – Slate’s Will Saletan

“Matt Lauer never challenged Trump's claim he opposed Iraq war in 2002 (which he did not). @chucktodd would not have let that go by.” – New York Times’ Trip Gabriel

“‘I was totally against the war in Iraq,’ Trump says, saying something that is not true. Matt Lauer offers no follow up.” – BuzzFeed Politics’ Andrew Kaczynski

"Trump lies about opposing Iraq war. Lauer lets it go. No follow up. Unreal.” – New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait

Americans rely on moderators of presidential forums and debates to hold candidates accountable and correct blatant lies like Trump’s Iraq War statement. Already, one of the four debate moderators, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, said it’s “not my job to be a truth squad” and correct any “falsehoods or unfounded accusations,” on which Trump’s campaign has been built.

Tell NBC News’ Lester Holt — and other presidential debate hosts Martha Raddatz (ABC News), Anderson Cooper (CNN), and Chris Wallace (Fox News) — to commit to asking serious, substantial questions of all candidates and hold candidates accountable for misinformation.