Lester Don Holt Jr.
March 8, 1959
|Education||Cordova High School|
|Notable credit(s)||NBC Nightly News weeknight anchor (2015–present)|
Weekend Today co-anchor (2003–2015)
NBC Nightly News weekend anchor (2007–2015)
Dateline NBC anchor (2011–present)
|Television||CBS News (1981–2000)|
NBC News (2000–present)
|Term||Anchor of NBC Nightly News|
|Political party||Independent (2018–present)|
Republican (until 2018)
|Children||2, including Stefan Holt|
Lester Don Holt Jr. (born March 8, 1959) is an American journalist and news anchor for the weekday edition of NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC. On June 18, 2015, Holt was made the permanent anchor of NBC Nightly News following the demotion of Brian Williams. Holt followed in the career footsteps of Max Robinson, an ABC News evening co-anchor, and Holt became the first African-American to solo anchor a weekday network nightly newscast.
According to a 2018 poll, Holt was ranked as being the most trusted TV news anchor in America. Holt was also known for his moderation of the first presidential debate of 2016 and was praised by The Washington Post columnists for his role in fact-checking false statements. While NBC Nightly News was the top-ranked evening news program for over 30 years during the Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams eras, ratings dropped to second place after Holt began as anchor.
Early life and education
Holt was born on March 8, 1959, on Hamilton Air Force Base, Marin County, California, the youngest child of four of June (DeRozario) and Lester Don Holt Sr. His maternal grandparents were born in Jamaica. His maternal grandfather Canute DeRozario was an Anglo-Indian and was one of 14 children of an Indo-Jamaican father from Calcutta, India, and a White Jamaican mother from England. His maternal grandmother, May, was born in Jamaica but raised in Harlem, New York, where his mother was born. His father was African American from Michigan, with roots in Tennessee.
He graduated from Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova in 1977 and majored in government at California State University, Sacramento, though he never graduated. In 2012, Holt told American Profile news magazine: "My first on-air job was actually as a disc jockey at a Country and Western station. The only time I could land a full-time gig was if I was willing to report the news." Holt would keep the job with the radio station through his college years.
Holt spent 19 years with CBS, as a reporter, anchor, and international correspondent.
In 1981, he was hired as a reporter for WCBS-TV in New York City. In 1982, he became a reporter and weekend anchor on KNXT in Los Angeles, and the next year he returned because to WCBS-TV as a reporter and weekend anchor. In 1986, Holt moved to WBBM-TV in Chicago, where he spent 14 years anchoring the evening news. Holt not only worked at the anchor desk but also reported extensively from troubled spots around the world, including Iraq, Northern Ireland, Somalia, El Salvador and Haiti.
Holt joined MSNBC in 2000. In 2003, he assumed full-time duties at NBC News, where he became a substitute anchor for NBC Nightly News and Today. Holt became a full-time co-anchor of Weekend Today following the death of previous co-anchor David Bloom. Until late 2005, he also anchored a two-hour daily newscast on MSNBC. On May 9, 2007, Holt was named anchor of the weekend edition of NBC Nightly News, anchoring the show for eight years before replacing Brian Williams as permanent anchor of the weekday edition. Additionally, Holt is the current host for NBC's Dateline. He moderated a presidential debate in 2016, and interviewed President Donald Trump in 2017, where fellow journalists said that he asked tough but appropriate questions.
In addition to his primary responsibilities at NBC News, he hosted a special for The History Channel about the 9/11 conspiracy theories, served as a sportsdesk reporter for NBC Sports coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics, and is the host of Dateline on ID, an edition of Dateline NBC shown on the Investigation Discovery network. In 2008, he narrated a documentary regarding actual crystal skulls on the Sci-Fi Channel.
When Brian Williams took medical leave in 2013 for knee replacement surgery, Holt filled in as weekday anchor. In 2015, Williams was suspended for reportedly exaggerating a story about the Iraq War, and Holt permanently replaced him as NBC Nightly News anchor.
Holt moderated the Democratic presidential candidates' debate in January 2016, alongside a panel of NBC political reporters, as well as the first presidential debate on September 26, 2016. Presidential candidate Donald Trump said that this was "a very unfair system" because "Lester is a Democrat". Holt was at the time a registered Republican. However in 2018, he changed his party affiliation to independent. After the debate, Donald Trump said that Holt did "a good job." Journalists also said that Holt performed admirably; for example he challenged Trump when Trump said that he originally opposed the war in Iraq, which was proven to be a false statement. The Washington Post said "Kudos to Holt" for making it clear that stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, when Trump said it wasn't.
Holt has made cameo appearances in the 1993 film The Fugitive; its 1998 sequel U.S. Marshals; and Primal Fear (1996); as well as on television shows, including playing himself in episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; the episode "Red, White, or Blue" of the series Due South; "Fate" of Early Edition and "A New Hope" of Warehouse 13. He appeared on the episode "Cleveland" of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. He also did a voice-over in the episode "Sandwich Day," announcing that Jack Donaghy would be a new cabinet member in the Bush administration. Holt announced the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the USA Network, and was featured in Making Music magazine. He also hosted the 2008 Sci-Fi Channel documentary Mystery of the Crystal Skulls. On May 31, 2020, Holt delivered a virtual commencement speech for the 254th graduating class of Rutgers University due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 1981–2000: CBS owned and operated stations
- 2000–present: NBC News
- 2000–2003: NBC News / MSNBC correspondent
- 2003–2015: Weekend Today co-anchor
- 2003–present: Today fill-in anchor
- 2007–2015: NBC Nightly News Weekend anchor
- 2009–2015: Why Planes Crash voiceover
- 2011–present: Dateline NBC anchor
- August 6, 2013 – September 2, 2013 and February 9, 2015 – June 18, 2015: NBC Nightly News interim anchor
- June 22, 2015 – present: NBC Nightly News anchor/managing editor (added managing editor in April 2021)
Awards and honors
- 1990: Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his work on CBS's 48 Hours: No Place Like Home .
- 2012: Honorary Doctorate from Pepperdine University
- 2015: Honorary Doctorate from California State University, Sacramento
- 2015: Inducted into the California Hall of Fame on October 28, 2015
- 2016: Alan B. DuMont Broadcaster of the Year from Montclair State University
- 2016: NABJ Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists
- 2019: Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism
- 2020: Honorary Doctorate from Rutgers University
- 2023: Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication from the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication
Holt resides in Manhattan with his wife, Carol Hagen; they have two sons, Stefan and Cameron. Stefan Holt graduated in 2009 from Pepperdine University and was the morning news anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in Chicago. In 2016, Stefan moved to the same floor as his father's Nightly News when joining WNBC, and he eventually succeeded veteran Chuck Scarborough as anchor of the station's 11 p.m. news broadcast. Stefan currently is the 10:00 pm anchor at NBC affiliate WMAQ in Chicago.
- Prince, Richard (March 19, 2018). "Lester Holt Drops GOP Registration". Journalisms. Retrieved October 10, 2019./
- Borchers, Callum (September 25, 2016). "5 things to know about presidential debate moderator Lester Holt". The Fix (blog). The Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- "Today in history: March 8th". WBBH. March 9, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Stelter, Brian. "Lester Holt gets anchor chair in historic moment for black journalists". CNN Money. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- Flint, Joe (June 17, 2015). "Brian Williams to Stay at NBC, but Lester Holt Will Be Anchor". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
- "America's Most Trusted TV News Anchors Revealed (Exclusive Poll)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
- Fahri, Paul (September 26, 2016). "Holt strikes a moderate tone as debate moderator". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017.
- Katz, A. J. (June 30, 2020). "Q2 2020 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Is America's Most-Watched Evening Newscast, Both in Total Viewers and A25-54". Adweek.
- "Lester Holt Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Lester Holt". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- "Me...And My Mom: In Honor... Stock Footage & Video Clips". NBCUniversal Archives. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Today Show: "Lester and Jenna trace their Jamaican roots" Aired on September 9, 2012 Archived September 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- Holt, Lester (May 11, 2007). "To Jamaica with Mom". allDAY. NBC News. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- "It's back to school for 'Today' host", May 2004.
- Lindelof, Bill (February 11, 2015). "Cordova High's Lester Holt fills in for NBC anchor Brian Williams during suspension". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
- "Lester Holt". NBC News. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- "Ask American Profile", American Profile magazine, February 5, 2012.
- Meadows, Bob (May 24, 2004). "National Newshound". People. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Hinckley, David (May 13, 2007). "TV anchor keeping it real". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Frager, Ray (July 16, 2008). "Your NBC Olympics lineup". Medium Well. The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on November 30, 2009.
- "Discovery Times Channel Becomes Investigation Discovery on January 27, With Slate of New Fact-Based Programming" (Press release). Discovery Channel. January 23, 2008. Archived from the original on March 10, 2009.
- "Brian Williams to Take Self Off Nightly News for 'Next Several Days'". NBC News. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
- Byers, Dylan. "NBC News: Brian Williams suspended for 6 months without pay". POLITICO. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
- "Lester Holt To Moderate First Democrat Debate Of 2016". Deadline. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- "CPD Announces 2016 Debate Moderators". Commission on Presidential Debates.
- "5 things to know about presidential debate moderator Lester Holt". The Washington Post.
- "Moderator Lester Holt Works to Keep Control of Debate". ABC News.
- Uberti, David (September 27, 2016). "Sizing up Lester Holt's low-key debate performance". Columbia Journalism Review.
- Trump's false claim that stop and frisk in NYC wasn't ruled unconstitutional, By Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, September 28, 2016
- "Watch Lester Holt's Extended Interview With President Trump". NBC News (video). May 11, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
- The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. NBC News. December 1, 2017
- [Transcript http://www.msnbc.com/transcripts/the-last-word]
- Germain, David (May 16, 2008). "'Indiana Jones': Real Archaeologists Don't Have Whips". ABC News. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
- "'Mystery of the Crystal Skulls' Sci Fi Channel special digs into prophecy". TwinCities.com. St. Paul Pioneer Press. May 17, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
- "Lester Holt - California Museum". www.californiamuseum.org. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- "NBC News Anchor Lester Holt Receives Broadcaster of the Year Award". Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- "NBC's Lester Holt Accepts 2016 NABJ Journalist of the Year Award - National Association of Black Journalists". www.nabj.org. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- "NBC's Lester Holt to receive 2019 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism". ASU News. July 9, 2019.
- "Page Center to honor Mary Barra, Lester Holt and Jon Iwata at seventh annual integrity awards". www.bellisario.psu.edu. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
- "NBC 5's Stefan Holt: Rising son in the morning", Time Out Chicago, February 13, 2012.
- Kaplan, Don (June 30, 2017). "WNBC anchor Chuck Scarborough leaving late-night job after 42 years for earlier shift". nydailynews.com. New York Daily News. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Holt, Lester (October 26, 2007). "Today's Anchor Chat: Lester Holt". allDAY. NBC News. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- "Features – Lester Holt". Making Music. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
- Ross, Bobby Jr. (January 2010). "Anchor for his soul: Lester Holt reflects on faith and journalism". Christian Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012.