Born: March 8, 1959
Birthplace: Marin County, CA
Zodiac Sign: Pisces
Life and Career
Lester Don Holt Jr. 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.
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. President Donald Trump later expressed his approval of Holt's moderation during the debate, noting that he "thought it was very fair".
Early life and education
Holt was born in Marin County, California, the son of June (DeRozario) and Lester Don Holt, Sr. His maternal grandparents are of Jamaican descent. His maternal grandfather was of half English and half Indian descent.
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 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 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, 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 the actual crystal skulls on the Sci-Fi Channel.
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.
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 is a registered Republican. 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.
In May 2017, Holt interviewed President Trump, where they discussed Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey. Holt's interview with Trump resulted in extensive media coverage.
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.
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 eventually succeeded veteran Chuck Scarborough as anchor of the station's 11 p.m. news broadcast.
Lester Holt plays bass guitar and the upright bass. 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.
Holt attends the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York.