Giuliani: I wouldn't debate again after Holt's 'interference'

Donald Trump faced two opponents at the presidential debate last night, and Rudy Giuliani is angry about it.

Moderator Lester Holt "fact-checked" Donald Trump on his tax returns but was curiously silent when it came to questioning Hillary Clinton about her family foundation and her use of a private email server.  In fact, Holt made little effort to disguise his partisanship.

The Hill:

Holt said before the event, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, that Clinton and Trump were the show, and there were long segments on Monday night where the candidates talked over each other. 

“So wait. There was a moderator?" said Lee Hartley Carter, president of Maslansky and Partners, a New York-based language strategy firm. “He allowed them to fight like school children for the first 20 minutes. He was a non-moderator.”

Conservatives also ripped Holt for asking questions about Trump's tax returns but not asking Clinton about her family's charitable foundation or the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server as secretary of State.

A big question coming into the debate was if Holt would fact-check Trump and Clinton, two candidates with low marks in polls over honesty.

Holt did indeed fact-check on several occasions, almost exclusively with Trump.

Holt said the GOP nominee had once supported the Iraq War, a statement that Trump pushed back upon.

“I did not support the war in Iraq,” Trump said. 

When Holt began to mention a 2002 interview with Howard Stern in which Trump did voice support for the war, the real estate magnate called it “mainstream media nonsense” put out by Clinton.

A few seconds later, Holt said “the records shows otherwise” before asking a separate question.

Some observers said Holt’s treatment of Trump showed he was affected by pre-debate pressure.

Fellow NBC anchor Matt Lauer of the “Today” show was criticized for not pressing Trump on whether he once backed the Iraq War when Lauer moderated a military forum earlier this month.

"Lester Holt felt the pressure on him to be Trump's fact-checker, and it showed,” said Noah Rothman, assistant online editor for Commentary Magazine.

Giuliani thought the interference by Holt was so egregious that, if it were he, he would not participate in the final two debates:

"If I were Donald Trump, I wouldn't participate in another debate unless I was promised the journalist would act like a journalist, and not an ignorant fact check," Giuliani said late Monday night in the post-debate spin room, according tovideo provided by Bloomberg. 

"My advice would be the moderator would have to promise they'd be a moderator."

When asked whether he planned to share his perspective with Trump, the former New York City mayor said he would keep private conversations private. 

Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said repeatedly after Monday night's debate that the GOP nominee would participate in the final two debates. 

But although Trump praised Holt immediately after the debate, Giuliani gave a scathing review of the moderator, claiming his "interference" in a discussion about policing in New York was "outrageous."

"If journalism has ethics, Lester Holt unethically interfering in the area of law he knows nothing about," Giuliani said. 

"It is not unconstitutional and Trump's description of that case was correct."

The argument in question came after Holt claimed "stop and frisk," a controversial program Giuliani approved as mayor of New York in which police search people they stop for questioning, "was ruled unconstitutional in New York" for its impact on minorities. 

That practice has been criticized as disproportionately targeting minorities. A circuit court judge ruled the practice unconstitutional, but a higher court never settled the question. 

Trump praised Holt after the debate, but surely he was seething inside.  A little better debate prep next time will help him deal with moderator questions, and perhaps his team should negotiate some new rules regarding just what the debate moderator can question.

As it stands now, Trump will be outgunned and outnumbered unless something changes before the next debate.