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Matt Lauer’s Terrible Forum Earns Him Internet Ire: #LaueringTheBar

Matt Lauer is fielding a slew of criticism after his hosting of Wednesday’s Commander-In-Chief Forum on NBC, during which he allowed Donald Trump to get away with blatant lies and focused much of his time interviewing Hillary Clinton on her use of a private email server.

The forum was seen as a bit of a preview by pundits for what is to come in the presidential debates, the first of which comes later this month. Lauer will not be moderating an actual debate, and was accused by journalists and media personalities of being unfair to Clinton while playing softball with Trump. Some even called the Today host’s performance sexist.

Each candidate was given 30 minutes with Lauer at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan.

Lauer spent a significant portion of his time with Clinton on questions about her use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State. He then appeared to rush through more important policy questions and even urged Clinton to make her reply “as briefly” as possible when she was asked about her plan to defeat ISIS by an audience member.

Trump, meanwhile, steamrolled Lauer and was permitted to get away with his oft-repeated lie that he was “totally against” the war in Iraq. Despite Clinton noting that this statement was false earlier during the event — and it is false, Trump told Howard Stern in 2002 that he supported invading Iraq and only came out against in two years later, after the invasion — Lauer simply moved along to the next question, leaving Trump totally unchallenged.

Twitter, of course, exploded with negative commentary on Lauer’s performance, and shortly thereafter, the hashtag #LaueringTheBar was born. Many fellow journalists blasted Lauer for his overall poor management of the forum.

Norman Ornstein, a political commentator, tweeted, “Lauer interrupted Clinton’s answers repeatedly to move on. Not once for Trump. Tough to be a woman running for President.”

Isaac Wright, executive director for Correct the Record, criticized NBC for posting a fact-check of Trump’s Iraq lie online, but not doing it on the air: “Too bad they didn’t when HE WAS BEING INTERVIEWED,” he tweeted, with a link to the article.

Several members of the Clinton camp expressed their displeasure with Lauer, as well. Press Secretary Brian Fallon criticized Lauer for letting Trump’s statements go by “unchecked.” Nick Merrill, another member of the Clinton press team, tweeted, “Imagine if @NBCNews had done its job.”

Other Twitter users also criticized Lauer, with some even calling for his removal from Today:

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a presidential candidates “Commander-in-Chief” forum, moderated by Matt Lauer (L), aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier “Intrepid” in New York, New York, United States September 7, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Clinton Foundation Awarded Top Rating By Charity Watchdog Group

The Clinton Foundation has been awarded four stars, the top possible rating, by charity watchdog group Charity Navigator. According to a press release issued by the Foundation, it received a four star rating in both financial sub-categories the group assesses, accountability and transparency.

Charity Navigator based the rating on annual tax documents filed by the foundation. The group is a leading watchdog organization, and frequently evaluates charities for donor edification. Charity navigator itself was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative between 2012 and 2014.

Michael Thatcher, president of Charity Navigator, told The Associated Press the rating was not influenced in any way by the campaign. The Clinton Foundation has also received positive ratings from other charity watchdog groups, including the American Institute of Philanthropy’s CharityWatch, from which the Foundation has an ‘A’ rating, and GuideStar, from which the foundation has a Platinum rating.

CharityWatch President Daniel Borochoff told CNN: “The Clinton foundation is an excellent charity. They are able to get 88% of their spending to bona fide program services and their fund-raising efficiency is really low. It only costs them $2 to raise $100. They are out there with other charities such as Doctors Without Borders, Salvation Army, the American Red Cross…”

The Clinton Foundation scored a total of 94.74 out of a possible 100, getting point reductions on two issues; its donor privacy policy and the process for setting the CEO’s salary.

Thatcher said of the Foundation, “the numbers speak for themselves.”

The Clinton Foundation has been under public scrutiny for its accepting donations from oppressive foreign governments including Saudi Arabia, the beneficiary of huge arms sales from the U.S.

Lanny Davis writing for The Hill said:

[B]efore we allow the Clinton Foundation to be pressured to shut its doors because of subjective concerns about ‘appearances,’ before we take seriously the partisan rants by some hypocritical Republicans and rightwing Clinton haters, or — speaking of ranting and hypocrisy — by Trump himself, let’s ask the question: Why not ask those who are suffering, starving, dying of AIDS or living in poverty around the world whether the Clinton Foundation should be shut down?

Photo: A Clinton Foundation souvenir is seen for sale at the Clinton Museum Store in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States April 27, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Trump’s Campaign Purchased $55,000 Worth Of His Own Book

Donald Trump’s campaign spent $55,055 at Barnes & Noble on purchases of his own book, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission and a new report by The Daily Beast. This report comes a day after it was revealed that the Trump team paid over 400 percent more in rent to Trump Tower after donors began funding the campaign.

A Trump spokesperson told The Daily Beast the books were for the purposes of RNC gifts, which the campaign team “[has] to do.” The Republican National Committee did not confirm or deny that Trump’s team was required to spend this much on gifts for attendees. RNC gift bags included kitschy “Make America Great Again!” items and a copy of Trump’s recent book, Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again.

According to The Daily Beast, if Trump receives the royalties from these sales, the transaction would be illegal under Federal Election Committee rules.

“It’s fine for a candidate’s book to be purchased by his committee, but it’s impermissible to receive royalties from the publisher,” a spokesman for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group, said to the website. “That amounts to an illegal conversion of campaign funds to personal use. There’s a well established precedent from the FEC that funds from the campaign account can’t end up in your own pocket.”

Trump’s team had no comment for the publication when asked about whether Trump would forgo royalties.

Photo: Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine August 4, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Trump Calls Immigrants ‘Great People’ And ‘Horrible People’ Within Span Of A Minute

A day after arguing that there are “gang members,” “killers,” and “bad people” that we need to “get out of this country,” Donald Trump is once again trying to contort himself into a new stance on undocumented immigrants living in the Unites States, telling a town hall participant there were a lot of “great people” among the immigrant population.

If your head hurts trying to follow Trump back and forth across the line, rest assured, you’re not alone. In the course of just this week, Trump appeared to be “pivoting” toward a more “humane and efficient” solution. Then, insisting that nothing had changed, he said he wanted to come up with one “really fair, but firm answer.” Then, a day later, he seemed to revert completely back to his original hard line stance, saying there would be deportations “so fast your head will spin.

Trump has said for months that he would deport 11 million people here without proper documentation.

Yesterday, he told town hall participants that he is open to “softening” his position on immigration, despite saying earlier this week that Buzzfeed‘s reports of the same were “false.

“There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people,” Trump told the town hall.

He then doubled down on earlier comments: “But we’ve got some really really bad gang members and some horrible people.”

This is what happens when immigration policy is delivered in catch phrases, without any foundation in reality. It’s unclear when Trump will try to backtrack on his latest comments and insist he is not open to any “softening” of his immigration policies, but given his history, it seems a good bet it’ll happen soon enough.

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking