Matt Lauer Catches Flack for His Moderator Performance, as Does Hillary


Wendy Alpine - featuredBy Wendy Alpine, President, Alpine Communications

Poor Matt Lauer can’t catch a break.

First it was his sockless feet. Now he’s been lambasted for how he moderated the recent Commander-in-Chief Forum” between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

I’ve never moderated a debate before, but I’ve read it’s harder than it looks.

But that’s not the point of the story for PR.

This morning, the pundits discussed how each of the candidates performed and who won vs. who lost. While it was agreed that Hillary won on substance, it was said that Donald Trump won the debate.

Frustrating for Hillary. She always seems to be challenged on her approach.


(Photo Source: Twitter)

Hillary sounded frustrated by having to defend her “damn emails” and did not look strong when she kept apologizing for what she did. From a PR standpoint, she should have said “I’ve answered the questions about my emails and I have nothing more to say about it.” Period. The End. Then she should have pivoted to all of her accomplishments on veterans’ issues which she was rushed to do by Lauer because of limited interview time.

Donald Trump, it seems, can do no wrong. Whatever he says, lies or not, doesn’t stick. For some reason, the same rules don’t apply to him.

Today, the story on CNN was that Hillary doesn’t smile enough and the issue of sexism in the presidential campaign is bubbling up. Why is it that certain standards are applied to her, but not Trump? Some say it’s sexism, with others go further, suggesting misogyny, according to an article in The Atlantic.

Nevertheless, people’s perceptions of Hillary are that she is cold and “walled off,” to use a term she described about how people perceive her.

The time is now for Hillary Clinton to practice 30 second sound bites that people can relate to, and to pivot to what she wants to say rather than what the interviewer is asking. It’s called “bridging,” and it’s a rule of thumb in crisis communications.

Here are some bridge phrases to consider when getting tough questions:

Interviewer: What do you think about how you handled the situation in Iraq?

Hillary: Short statement, then pivot to: What matters in this situation is….

Here are 11 other statements developed by the Publicity Hound in a recent blog post.

Bridging is an effective crisis management tool, and it’s surprising that Hillary Clinton is not using more of it. Do you have any suggestions for how she could have improved her performance?

 About the Author: Wendy Alpine is president of Alpine Communications, a leading PR firm in Atlanta, with a specialty in healthcare and technology. Reach her at, or visit





Leave a Comment