A panel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” grilled Donald Trump’s campaign manager on Monday over the Republican presidential nominee’s false claim that the moderator in the first debate was a Democrat.
Mark Halperin of Bloomberg Politics repeatedly asked campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to answer why Trump tried to undercut NBC anchor Lestor Holt’s credibility in suggesting Holt would not be a fair moderator in the first debate, scheduled for Monday night at Hofstra University in New York.
“He said Lester Holt is a Democrat. Lester Holt is a Republican. How could he say such a thing that just black and white was factually incorrect?” Halperin said.
Conway said she believed Holt was “a great choice” to moderate Monday night’s debate, adding that Trump was not aware of the NBC anchor’s political affiliation when he labeled Holt a partisan Democrat.
“I don’t know that he knew what Lester Holt’s voter registration was,” Conway said.
When Halperin continued to press, Conway brushed off Trump’s misstatement as “a terrible and irrelevant example,” instead arguing that some media outlets were parroting Hillary Clinton’s campaign talking points and pressuring moderators to do increased fact-checking during debates. In past interviews, Conway said debate moderators did not have a responsibility to be fact-checkers.
“What bothers us, Mark, is the very public, very coordinated attempt to game the refs,” Conway said.
MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski also jumped in, accusing Conway of filibustering instead of answering the question directly.
“We’re asking why he lied about Lester Holt,” Brzezinski said.
“He didn’t lie,” Conway responded. “Mika, a lie would mean he knew the man’s party registration.”
“As president, would he say things he knows are false without knowing they’re true?” Halperin replied.
Conway dodged the question, instead pivoting to a critique of several reporters embedded in the campaign and singling out two reporters whose tweets the campaign manager said were “92% negative” toward Trump.
“What I would ask you to do is look at the Twitter feeds of ‘objective reporters,’ particular our embeds,” Conway said. “These are not profiles in courage – this is not journalism.
“There are people who cover our campaign who actually just slander our candidate on Twitter. Ninety-two percent of one of them – I have them all in my desk, we’ve printed them all out. Ninety-two percent of two of our embeds’ tweets are negative.”