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Lester Holt to presidential debate commission on moderating again: 'Lose my number'

Lester Holt to presidential debate commission on moderating again: 'Lose my number'

NBC "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt said Wednesday night he told a presidential debate commission to lose his number after moderating the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLate night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study 10 steps toward better presidential debating Continuity is (mostly) on the menu for government contracting in the next administration MORE in September 2016. 

The revelations came during a Black History Month event at New York's Paley Center for Media, where the 58-year-old Holt spoke with NBC News colleague Andrea Mitchell.

It was “incredibly gratifying to be a part of it," Holt said of the Sept. 26, 2016, debate at Hofstra University, which was watched by more than 84 million people at home, the largest audience for any presidential debate in history. Holt said he still hasn't watched the record-setting event.

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“I remember at the end of the evening, we had a little reception with our staff and I was leaving and one of the people from the debate commission said, ‘Great job, hope you see you in four years,’ and I said, ‘Lose my number,'” Holt added. 

Holt holds the distinction of being the last network anchor to interview President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE, which happened in May shortly before the firing of then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyEx-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals DOJ weakens policy on investigating elections: report 'Comey Rule' exposes entertainment reporting's blinding partisanship MORE

He was also asked about being the first African-American solo anchor of a weekday network nightly newscast. 

“Kids can now look around and see someone who looks like them on TV,” he said, adding that former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw and former NBC "Today" host Bryant Gumbel are among those who inspired him

“There were periods of my career where there was just pressure to define myself as a black journalist, and I pushed back at that because I knew I wanted to succeed and not be defined by my color,” Holt said. "I think if any of us are going to succeed, it’s going to be on a broad scale."
 
Holt was named "Nightly News" anchor in June 2015 after Brian Williams was suspended by the network for fabricating and exaggerating stories. Williams has since returned as the host of "The 11th Hour" on MSNBC.