Lauer’s role at the Wednesday night forum was to both moderate and conduct back-to-back live interviews with the two candidates about issues important to the American public. The general consensus online is that Lauer tossed Trump allegedly “easy” questions to answer, while Clinton was grilled, especially about her usage of a private email server.
Many people also point out that Lauer failed to address Trump’s claim that he had previously opposed the war in Iraq, something that pundits say is false, but the Republican candidate keeps insisting is true. According to The Associated Press, there is a 2002 TV interview where Trump vocally supports the war.
An NBC executive spoke anonymously to CNN, calling Lauer’s appearance a “disaster.”
Social-media users, too, including President Obama’s speechwriter, were quick to criticize — and outright attack — Lauer on his performance. The hashtag “#LaueringTheBar” was trending on Twitter Wednesday night.
Lauer, trying to find humour in his situation, made a knowing reference during an interview with comic Dana Carvey on Thursday.
WATCH: Hillary Clinton lashed out at Donald Trump for remarks he made Wednesday night about his plan to sack high-ranking U.S. military generals if elected president.
Carvey, on NBC’s Today, was impersonating Russian leader Vladimir Putin and commended Lauer for his work on the previous evening’s national security forum. “You have a fan,” Carvey, as Putin, said.
“One,” replied Lauer, holding up his index finger.
Lauer’s NBC colleague, Lester Holt, is scheduled to moderate the first debate between the candidates on Sept. 26.
— With files from The Associated Press