“See, my hand started to shake when you said that,” said NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt after being asked about moderating the first 2016 presidential debate at an event hosted at Wallis Annenberg Hall Thursday night.
Along with analyzing clips of the debate, Holt, in conversation with Willow Bay, the dean of the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, spoke about politics, journalism and transparency.
The two then discussed different clips of Holt moderating the first Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate, which Holt said he had not watched in its entirety. He explained that being the moderator was one of the most challenging things in his career.
“The difficult thing was turning on cable TV and hearing people talk about me,” he said. “You think it doesn’t get into your head, but it does.”
Holt spoke about interviewing Trump after he had become president — explaining how quickly Trump opened up to speak to him following the president’s firing of FBI director James Comey.
He also spoke about visiting a U.S. naval base in South Korea, where he said the military is prepared for a nuclear attack from North Korea.
“When you realize how many people could die, it’s quite disturbing,” he said.
The conversation then opened to questions from pre-selected journalism students. Garrett Schwartz, a senior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism, asked about a journalist’s use of social media.
Holt explained that social media is important to keep people informed, but that he was always cautious.
“I am very guarded, because that’s what gets us in trouble,” Holt said. “When we get into the pundit world too much, we risk to fall into those traps.”
Holt addressed issues of objectivity in journalism, explaining that the most important thing for a journalist is remaining objective.
“You don’t just need to hold yourself accountable, but others accountable too,” Holt said. “You have to be clear with who you are.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Holt spoke about visiting a U.S. Naval base in North Korea. The base was in South Korea. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.