Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE praised moderator Lester Holt following Monday night’s debate, despite fielding tough questions from the NBC News anchor. 


"I thought Lester did a great job,” Trump told CNN. “Honestly, I thought he did a great job. I thought [the questions] were very fair."

Trump’s assessment of Holt is different from that of his surrogates and GOP operatives, however, who said the anchor was tougher on the businessman than on Democratic nomionee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way MORE

The moderator put Trump on the defensive multiple times, pressing him on his claims that he opposed the Iraq War, his refusal to release his tax returns, his support of stop-and-frisk policing tactics and his “birther” crusade against President Obama.

Breitbart News, which is close to the Trump campaign, published a post-debate piece titled, “Five Times Lester Holt Shilled For Hillary At First Debate” 


Holt interrupted Trump 30 times during the debate, according to a count compiled by the left-leaning news site Vox. Clinton was interrupted 19 times by the moderator.