Lester Holt

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Lester Holt
Lester Holt.png
Holt in July 2010
BornLester Don Holt Jr.
(1959-03-08) March 8, 1959 (age 59)
Marin County, California, U.S.
ResidenceManhattan, New York, U.S.
EducationCordova High School
Alma materCalifornia State University, Sacramento
OccupationJournalist Musician
Years active1981–present
EmployerNational Amusements (1981–2000)
General Electric (2000–2013)
Comcast (2013–present)
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)
Salary$4.5 million (2015)[1]
TelevisionCBS News (1981–2000)
NBC News (2000–present)
TermAnchor of NBC Nightly News
PredecessorBrian Williams
Political partyRepublican[2]
Carol Hagen (m. 1982)

Lester Don Holt Jr. (born March 8, 1959)[3] 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, making him the first African-American to solo anchor a weekday network nightly newscast.[4][5]

Holt is also known for his moderation of the first Presidential debate of 2016, and was praised for his role in fact-checking false statements made by both candidates.[6] President Donald Trump later expressed his approval of Holt's moderation during the debate, noting that he "thought it was very fair".[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Holt was born in Marin County, California, the son of June (DeRozario) and Lester Don Holt, Sr.[8][9] His maternal grandparents are of Jamaican descent.[10] His maternal grandfather was of half English and half Indian descent.[11]

He graduated from Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova in 1977[12] and majored in government at California State University, Sacramento, though he never graduated.[13][14] 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.[15]


Holt in 2010 photographed by the United States Air Force while reporting on an airdrop mission in Afghanistan

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 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.[14]

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.[16] 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.[17] Additionally, Holt is the current host for NBC's Dateline. He moderated the presidential debates 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,[18] and is the host of Dateline on ID, an edition of Dateline NBC shown on the Investigation Discovery network.[19] In 2008, he narrated a documentary regarding the actual crystal skulls on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Holt interviewing Dr. Holly Bamford of the National Ocean Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2013

When Brian Williams took medical leave in 2013 for knee replacement surgery, Holt filled in as weekend 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.[20][21][5]

Holt moderated the Democratic presidential candidates' debate in January, 2016, alongside a panel of NBC political reporters,[22] as well as the first presidential debate on September 26, 2016.[23] Presidential candidate Donald Trump said that this was "a very unfair system" because "Lester is a Democrat". Holt is a registered Republican.[24] 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.[25][26] 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.[27]

In May 2017, Holt interviewed President Trump, where they discussed Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey. Trump originally said that he fired Comey because of Comey's disclosure of the investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails. Critics said that Trump fired Comey because of Comey's investigation of the Trump staff's dealings with Russia. However, Trump told Holt, "When I decided [to fire Comey], I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'"[28]

Holt's interview with Trump resulted in extensive media coverage. "The Lester Holt interview remains possibly the most important televised interview ever done," with the possible exception of David Frost's interview with Richard Nixon, said TV news anchor Lawrence O'Donnell. O'Donnell said this was evidence of an illegal coverup of Russian dealings. "There he was saying, 'I was thinking about the Russian investigation, which is to say I'm thinking about Michael Flynn, when I'm firing James Comey,'" O'Donnell said. [29][30]

Other work[edit]

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 also 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.

Career timeline[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Holt resides in Manhattan with his wife, Carol Hagen. They have two sons, Stefan and Cameron.[16] Stefan Holt graduated in 2009 from Pepperdine University and was the morning news anchor at NBC-owned WMAQ-TV in Chicago.[34] In 2016, Stefan moved to the same floor as his father's Nightly News when joining WNBC, and eventually succeeded veteran Chuck Scarborough as anchor of the station's 11 p.m. news broadcast.[35] Lester Holt plays bass guitar.[17][36][37] On September 6, 2017, The Today Show reported that Holt became a grandfather to a boy when his son Stefan and his wife had their first child.[citation needed]

Holt attends the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lester Holt Reportedly Aims to Take Brian Williams' $10M Salary at NBC – Newsmax". Newsmax. June 11, 2015.
  2. ^ Borchers, Callum (September 25, 2016). "5 things to know about presidential debate moderator Lester Holt". Washington Post (blog). Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "Today in history: March 8th". WBBH. 2009-03-09. Archived from the original on March 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  4. ^ Stelter, Brian. "Lester Holt gets anchor chair in historic moment for black journalists". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  5. ^ a b 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.
  6. ^ Fahri, Paul (2016-09-26). "Holt strikes a moderate tone as debate moderator". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2017-12-23.
  7. ^ Byers, Dylan (2017-09-27). "Donald Trump: 'Lester Holt did a great job'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Lester Holt Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Lester Holt". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  9. ^ "Me...And My Mom: In Honor... Stock Footage & Video Clips". NBCUniversal Archives. Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  10. ^ Holt, Lester (2007-05-11). "To Jamaica with Mom". allDAY. NBC News. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  11. ^ Today Show: "Lester and Jenna trace their Jamaican roots" Aired on September 9, 2012 Archived September 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "It's back to school for 'Today' host", May 2004.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ a b "Lester Holt". NBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  15. ^ "Ask American Profile", American Profile magazine, February 5, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Meadows, Bob (May 24, 2004). "National Newshound". People. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  17. ^ a b Hinckley, David (2007-05-13). "TV anchor keeping it real". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  18. ^ Frager, Ray (2008-07-16). "Your NBC Olympics lineup". Medium Well. The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on November 30, 2009.
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ "Brian Williams to Take Self Off Nightly News for 'Next Several Days'". NBC News. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  21. ^ Byers, Dylan. "NBC News: Brian Williams suspended for 6 months without pay". POLITICO. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  22. ^ "Lester Holt To Moderate First Democrat Debate Of 2016". Deadline. Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  23. ^ "CPD Announces 2016 Debate Moderators". Commission on Presidential Debates.
  24. ^ "5 things to know about presidential debate moderator Lester Holt". Washington Post.
  25. ^ "Moderator Lester Holt Works to Keep Control of Debate". ABC News.
  26. ^ Uberti, David (September 27, 2016). "Sizing up Lester Holt's low-key debate performance". Columbia Journalism Review.
  27. ^ Trump’s false claim that stop and frisk in NYC wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, By Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, September 28, 2016
  28. ^ "Watch Lester Holt's Extended Interview With President Trump". NBC News (video). May 11, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  29. ^ The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. NBC News. December 01, 2017
  30. ^ [Transcript http://www.msnbc.com/transcripts/the-last-word]
  31. ^ "Lester Holt - California Museum". www.californiamuseum.org. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  32. ^ "NBC News Anchor Lester Holt Receives Broadcaster of the Year Award". Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  33. ^ "NBC's Lester Holt Accepts 2016 NABJ Journalist of the Year Award - National Association of Black Journalists". www.nabj.org. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  34. ^ "NBC 5’s Stefan Holt: Rising son in the morning", Time Out Chicago, February 13, 2012.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Holt, Lester (2007-10-26). "Today's Anchor Chat: Lester Holt". allDAY. NBC News. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  37. ^ "Features – Lester Holt". Making Music. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  38. ^ Ross, Jr., Bobby (January 2010). "Anchor for his soul: Lester Holt reflects on faith and journalism". Christian Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012.

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
David Bloom
Weekend Today Co-Anchor
Succeeded by
Craig Melvin
Preceded by
John Seigenthaler
NBC Nightly News Weekend Edition Anchor
Succeeded by
Kate Snow
Preceded by
Ann Curry
Dateline NBC Anchor
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Brian Williams
NBC Nightly News Weekday Edition Anchor
Succeeded by