Debate Commission, Networks Have No Plans To Fact-Check Candidates Live

AP

In advance of the first presidential debate on Monday, the head of the Commission on Presidential Debates as well as major networks would not commit to fact-checking candidates live.

In a Sunday interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, the commission’s executive director, Janet Brown, said that she was not in favor of fact-checking by NBC anchor Lester Holt, who will moderate the debate Monday.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Brittanica,” Brown said. “I think personally if you start getting into fact-checking I’m not sure, what is a big fact, what’s a little fact, and if you and I have different sources of information, does your source about the unemployment rate agree with my source?”

While the commission lets moderators decide how to respond, Brown added, she recommended that they “facilitate” fact-checking between candidates rather than take an active role in doing it themselves.

Major networks were also unwilling to commit to the chyron fact-checks they’ve taken to using to correct candidates in real time, according to a Monday report from Politico.

Univision and Telemundo told Politico that they were not planning to fact-check candidates on screen, citing the rapid-fire editorial and technical response required.

NBC did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment.

Politico later reported that Bloomberg TV will fact-check statements made during the debate on screen.

This post has been updated.

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Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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