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Lester the Debate Molester

It's not for no reason that people "work the refs." It gets results. Hillary Clinton made it through the first of the season’s three presidential debates on Monday night, thanks in no small part to the moderator, Lester Holt, who made it his task the whole evening to harass Donald Trump and roll out the red carpet for Hillary Clinton.

Granted, Holt didn’t insert himself, Candy Crowley–style, into the proceedings, as happened four years ago with Mitt Romney and President Obama. Then again, he didn't have to. Hostile questions were fired at one candidate and one candidate only last night: Donald Trump.

Holt asked Trump about his tax returns, about the part he played in the birther controversy, about his statements on the Iraq War, and about what exactly he meant when he said recently that Clinton doesn't have a “presidential look.” Clinton, by contrast, was not asked by Holt about any of the following: her private e-mail server, the Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, or any one of the many topics about which voters are rightly concerned. Instead, she was served softball policy questions and allowed to pontificate about renewable energy and the numberless misdeeds of George W. Bush.

The political slant of the media being what it is, the Republican nominee is always at a disadvantage when it comes to debate moderators, and should prepare accordingly. Donald Trump could have done a better job preparing himself for the inevitable Holt attacks; he also blew several chances to go after Hillary. That said, it’s wrong for a supposedly neutral moderator to favor either candidate.

Holt’s conduct is the result of mounting pressures from the liberal media and political circles (but we repeat ourselves) to treat Donald Trump as someone who's supposedly beyond the pale of decency, to deny his legitimacy as a presidential contender. But Trump's electoral fate should be decided not by the likes of Lester Holt or his liberal media pals, but by the voters.