Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday complained that he received unfair treatment from NBC News anchor Lester Holt, who moderated the first presidential debate in New York on Monday.
“During the debate the other night, I had to put up with the anchor and fight the anchor all the time on everything I said,” Trump said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire. “What a rigged deal. I tell you we’re in such a rigged system. It is terrible. What’s going on in this country is so sad.”
During the debate, Holt pressed Trump over a number of issues, including his support for the Iraq War and the years he spent pushing a debunked conspiracy about President Barack Obama’s birthplace.
But when a CNN reporter asked Trump about Holt’s performance immediately after the debate on Monday, Trump gave the veteran newsman high marks.
“I thought Lester did a great job. Honestly, I thought Lester did a great job,” Trump said, adding that Holt’s questioning as moderator had been “very fair.”
The GOP nominee’s impression of Holt gradually degraded over the next several days, however, amid numerous polls that showed him losing the match-up against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump also appeared angry with a number of his campaign aides, who fretted ― anonymously ― in an article published by The New York Times about his unwillingness to prepare for the debate.
On Tuesday, the morning after the debate, Trump said on Fox News that Holt appeared “more than a little” biased against him. The following day, in an appearance on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Trump said that Holt earned a “C” grade and that his opinion had changed after the debate.
“When I first did it, I thought he was fine, I wasn’t thinking about it, but when I reviewed it and when I saw all of the commentary — because a lot of people thought he was terrible — and I looked at all of the commentary, I realized he was much, much tougher on me than he was on Hillary, it was like day and night,” he said.
Holt wasn’t the only target of Trump’s anger. On Tuesday, he complained about a faulty microphone, which he suggested might have been set up to undermine his performance.
“I wonder if it was set up that way,” he said. “It was terrible.”