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Presidential debate moderator Lester Holt debunked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's lie that he was against the Iraq War from the beginning during the first presidential debate. Countless fact-checkers have debunked the statement as a chronologically impossible, blatant lie. Trump attempted to deputize Fox News host Sean Hannity as a reliable source to defend his claim, urging media figures to call him. Hannity has repeatedly defended Trump and Fox News received nearly exclusive interview privilege with the candidate in return. Hannity has asserted "I'm not a journalist" in response to criticism over his softball interviews with Trump.
From the September 26 Presidential Debate:
LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, with a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your --
TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.
TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her because she frankly I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.
HOLT: My question --
TRUMP: Would you like to hear? I was against -- wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.
HOLT: The record shows otherwise.
TRUMP: The record does not show that.
HOLT: Why is your judgment any --
TRUMP: The record shows that I'm right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone's asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don't know, maybe, who knows, essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto, we talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox [News] and Sean Hannity said, and he called me the other day, and I spoke to him about it. He said, "You were totally against the war." Because he was for the war.
HOLT: Why is your judgment better --
TRUMP: Excuse me. And that was before the war started. Sean Hannity said, very strongly, to me and other people, he's willing to say, but nobody wants to call him. I was against the war. He said, "you used to have fights with me" because Sean was in favor of the war. And I understand that side also. Not very much, because we should have never been there. But nobody calls Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine shortly after the war started I think in '04, but they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq. And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was definite because if you read this article, there's no doubt. But if somebody, and I'll ask the press, if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started, he and I used to have arguments about the war. I said it's a terrible and a stupid thing. It's going to destabilize the Middle East and that's exactly what it's done.