In the form, the debate was less fiery than expected. Lester Holt was professional in the tone he used, Clinton was beaming a calm-like attitude of railing her opponent, and Trump refrained from any unusual adjectives calling his opponent “Secretary Clinton.” But on the substance and procedure, there was something else.
To sharp observers, Donald J. Trump was engaged by two parties simultaneously, one being Hillary Clinton and the other being Lester Holt from NBC. While Clinton was pushing her very scripted talking points -fair enough to do so- NBC’s Lester Holt was firing his questions and calling for time limit, in indirect symbiosis with Clinton’s charges. We know how debates are and we know how televised panels operate. Donald Trump was fighting on two fronts at the Hofstra event. One major example was when M. Holt would come back and ask his question several times regardless of Trump’s answers, consuming the latter’s time, a method that wasn’t applied to Clinton. When the heavy questions of fighting ISIS were fielded to Clinton, and Trump was about to engage her in foreign policy blunders in the Middle East, Holt shifted the discussion to remote issues. The debate was intelligently remote-controlled in favor of Clinton, little doubt about that.
In short, and the transcripts would help in confirming such assessment, Clinton was the sword, and Holt was the shield. However Trump was able to score most, but not all of his point.