Lester Holt Was Flattered to Have Been Asked to Moderate First Presidential Debate, but Doesn’t Want to Do it Again

By A.J. Katz 

Lester Holt ended his busy February with a sit down at the Paley Center last night, where he spoke with NBC News colleague Andrea Mitchell about a variety of subjects, including his infamous May 2017 interview with Pres. Trump, and moderating the first presidential debate.

Holt on his interview with President Trump in May 2017, the most-recent sit down with a broadcast news outlet, said, “I think I turned to one of my colleagues, I said, ‘I think we made some news there.” The news which came from the interview was that Pres. Trump said he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire then-FBI director James Comey two days earlier. In that interview, Trump called Comey a “showboat” and said the FBI was “in turmoil.”

He also discussed moderating the first presidential debate of the 2016 campaign, and said he has still not watched that debate, though it was “incredibly gratifying to be a part of it.”


“I remember at the end of the evening, we had a little reception with our staff and I was leaving and one of the people from the debate commission said ‘great job, hope you see you in four years’ and I said ‘lose my number,'” he continued.

If Holt was nervous at all, his colleagues couldn’t tell. At an event last June, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim remarked that the team backstage pacing and stress eating before the event, while Holt was watching an old Julia Roberts movie.

Holt also discussed his role as the first African-American anchor of a broadcast network evening newscast.

“I think the thing that took me a while to realize was the impact in living rooms and in homes … what inspires me is when people tell me that their kids, children of color, are sitting down watching our broadcast … the fact that kids can now look around and see somebody that looks like them on TV or somebody they know or their parents [know], I think is great.”