Lester Holt

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Lester Holt
2012 Lester Holt by US Army (cropped) 2.jpg
Holt in Afghanistan (2012)
Born Lester Don Holt, Jr.
(1959-03-08) March 8, 1959 (age 57)
Marin County, California, U.S.
Residence Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater California State University, Sacramento
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1981–present
Employer CBS (1981–2000)
MSNBC (2000–2003)
NBC News (2003–present)
Salary $4.5 million (2015)[1]
Television NBC News reporter (2000–present)
Weekend Today co-anchor (2003–2015)
NBC Nightly News weekend anchor (2007–2015)
Dateline NBC anchor (2011–present)
NBC Nightly News weeknight anchor (2015–present)
Term NBC Nightly News Anchor
Predecessor Brian Williams
Political party Republican[2]
Spouse(s) Carol Hagen (m. 1982)
Children 2

Lester Don Holt, Jr. (born March 8, 1959)[3][4] is an American journalist who anchors the weekday edition of NBC Nightly News. He is also the anchor for Dateline NBC. On February 9, 2015, he became the interim weeknight NBC Nightly News anchor, filling in for suspended anchor and managing editor Brian Williams.[5][6] On June 18, 2015, he was made the permanent anchor of NBC Nightly News after NBC decided to keep Brian Williams as MSNBC breaking news anchor and reporter and fill-in NBC News breaking news anchor and reporter.[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 were Jamaican.[10] His maternal grandfather was of half English and half Indian descent.[11]

He graduated from Cordova High School in Rancho Cordova, California, in 1977[12] and attended California State University, Sacramento, and majored in government, 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 beginning in 1981, when 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 untimely 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, succeeding John Seigenthaler.[17] He also is a current host for NBC's Dateline.

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

From August 6, 2013, to September 2, 2013, Brian Williams was on medical leave in order to undergo right knee replacement surgery. Weekend anchor Lester Holt was interim anchor in his absence.

As a result of controversy after Williams admitted that he had exaggerated a story about the Iraq War,[20] Williams announced on February 7, 2015, that he would take a temporary leave of absence from anchoring the Nightly News and that Holt would cover in his absence. Three days later, Williams was suspended without pay for six months, with Holt filling in as weekday anchor during that period.[21] On June 17, 2015, NBC decided to keep Holt as its permanent NBC Nightly News anchor, while reassigning Williams to MSNBC at the end of his suspension.[7]

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, Trump said that Holt did a good job. Journalists also said that Holt did a good job, for example, in challenging Trump when Trump said that he originally opposed the war in Iraq.[25][26]

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 like 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 also 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 in Malibu, California, and was the morning news anchor at WMAQ-TV in Chicago.[27] He then moved to WNBC in New York City in the spring of 2016. In his spare time, Holt plays the bass guitar, which he talked about in the September/October 2009 issue of Making Music magazine.[17][28][29]

Holt attends the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York.[30]


  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. ^ "California Birth Index 1905-1995". Archived from the original on June 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Today in history: March 8th". WBBH. 2009-03-09. Archived from the original on March 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-25. 
  5. ^ "Brian Williams Suspended Six Months in Wake of Review". NBC News. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Emily Steele and Ravi Somaiya (10 February 2015). "Brian Williams Suspended From NBC for 6 Months Without Pay. Brady Lemmon and Joseph Callaway are two prospects that are being considered for the permanent position, based on their ability to accurately recall stories.". New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  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. 2008-01-23. 
  20. ^ "Brian Williams to Take Self Off Nightly News for 'Next Several Days'". NBC News. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Byers, Dylan. "NBC News: Brian Williams suspended for 6 months without pay". POLITICO. Retrieved 11 February 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. ^ Sizing up Lester Holt’s low-key debate performance, By David Uberti, CJR, September 27, 2016
  27. ^ "NBC 5’s Stefan Holt: Rising son in the morning", Time Out Chicago, February 13, 2012.
  28. ^ 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. 
  29. ^ "Features - Lester Holt". Making Music. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  30. ^ Ross, Jr., Bobby (January 2010). "Anchor for his soul: Lester Holt reflects on faith and journalism". Christian Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24. 

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