NBC has announced which of its personalities will anchor the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 election cycle. They range from sometimes biased, but generally fair and professional (José Diaz-Balart) to far-left opinion show hosts (Rachel Maddow).
The first hour
For the debate’s first hour, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt will take the lead, with Savannah Guthrie and José Diaz-Balart.
This isn’t Holt’s first time moderating a political debate.
Tim Graham, the executive editor of the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters blog, recalled to TheBlaze how Holt had moderated back in 2016. During a debate between former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now-President Donald Trump, Holt interrupted and challenged Trump’s answers on five separate occasions. “But there was not one single, solitary challenge to anything Hillary said,” Graham recalled. “This is not exactly a hostile set of moderators for the Democrats.”
Diaz-Balart is likely the most fair of the five. The brother of former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and current Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), he has tended in the past to ask fair questions about politically charged topics like immigration. In fact, in 2007, Graham’s organization had found Diaz-Balart to be the most balanced reported the network had when it came to immigration.
While certainly not one of the most biased reporters on NBC, Guthrie is married to a Democratic strategist who used to be former-Vice President Al Gore’s traveling chief of staff. In addition to co-anchoring NBC’s “Today,” Guthrie is also the network’s chief legal analyst.
The second hour
Holt will return for the second hour, joined by Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow.
Maddow hosts her own left-leaning talk show on MSNBC. After the 2016 election results came in, a distraught Maddow assured her viewers that they were “not having a terrible, terrible dream. Also, you’re not dead and you haven’t gone to hell.” She also hugged both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after she moderated a primary debate between them in 2016.
The last moderator, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” Todd is married to a Democratic Party strategist who donated $2,500 to Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) campaign in 2012. While this in itself doesn’t disqualify Todd, he failed to disclose those donations during three interviews he did with Kaine (who was running as Clinton’s vice president) during the 2016 election cycle.
When is this debate?
The debate will take place June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.