Just a week before debating Hillary Clinton for the first time, Republican nominee Donald Trump has said in recent interviews that the "the system is being rigged" against him. "I think it's terrible," Trump told Fox News Channel over the September 17-18 weekend. "They want the host to go after Trump."
The first of three scheduled debates will take place on September 26. Lester Holt of NBC will question the two candidates.
Trump responded last week to criticism that NBC's Matt Lauer had received for being ostensibly being too easy on him when pitching questions about national security. He called Lauer “very professional," and told CNBC that this pressures other moderators to avoid the criticism meted out to Lauer by Democrats.
"Trump's buddy, the old basketball coach Bobby Knight, used to do this all the time," said CBS News’ Bob Schieffer. "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." Schieffer moderated the 2012 debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Schieffer has advised moderators to "laugh it off" candidates’ criticism. "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."
Alan Schroeder, author of "Presidential Debates: 50 Years of High-Risk TV," said "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."
Schroeder said moderators should avoid reading and participating in stories about debates, and even step away from daily coverage of the campaign.
After the initial debate, moderated by Lester Holt, there will be a town hall to be moderated by CNN's Anderson Cooper and ABC's Martha Raddatz, and a final debate moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
Trump's opponents have piled on. For instance, Clinton ally David Brock -- who is the founder of the liberal Media Matters watchdog group -- demanded that Wallace be dropped because his former boss, Roger Ailes, is believed to be advising Trump. The demand was rejected by the debate commission.
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