In a mind-boggling statement on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates told host Brian Stelter that fact checking isn’t the duty of the moderator. In fact, she said candidates should fact check each other.
With the issue of honesty being such an influential factor in the 2016 election, it’s difficult to believe that the chief is taking this stand. Both candidates have been accused of and found to have issues with twisting the truth, and Donald Trump is a particularly egregious example.
Brown’s reasoning is even more confusing:
‘I think personally if you start getting into fact checking, I’m not sure. What is a big fact? What is a little fact? And if you and I have different sources of information does your source about the unemployment rate agree with my source? I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica.’
But recently, both candidates have been called to the carpet for serial falsehoods. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was analyzed by POLITICO and found to lie every three minutes and 15 seconds over “nearly five hours of remarks.” By tallying up the approximate amount of time that Trump spoke and was interviewed, four hours and 43 minutes, they found he issued 87 separate falsehoods.
POLITICO also fact checked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and found that her falsehoods usually only involved herself and her own behavior, including her handling of her pneumonia scare on September 11. POLITICO clocked Clinton in at 96 minutes of speaking, with eight falsehoods.
According to CNN, both campaigns are battling it out over fact checking during the debate. On one side, the Trump side, the sentiment is that it’s not the job of the moderator to check facts but to manage the flow of the event. On the other side, the Clinton side, an argument can be made that any fool can keep track of the time, but “A journalist needs to represent the viewers and help make the truth known.”
According to Brown, the commission “asks independent, smart journalists to be the moderators and we let them decide how they’re going to do this.”
So, apparently it’s up to Lester Holt on whether or not to fact check. According to one NBC staffer, “Lester is not going to be a potted plant.” Watch the video below to see Brown’s explanation on Reliable Sources.
The response to Brown’s statement from John Aravosis of AmericaBlog, was a blast of outraged indignation via Twitter:
‘1) Appearing on CNN, the head of the Commission on Presidential Debates gave a bizarre explanation why she doesn’t believe in fact checking.’
‘2) She suggested that it would be difficult for moderators to distinguish between “big facts” and “little facts.”’
‘3) She then gave the example of how difficult it would be to fact check the unemployment rate. When in fact, that’s not difficult at all.’
’10) Trump lies all the time when confronted with uncomfortable truths about things he’s said or done.’
’13) And finally, the moderator’s job can be whatever we want it to be. This doesn’t have to follow college debate rules.’
’14) This is a campaign beset by lies. The only way to make it fair, and help the public reach a decision, if for the moderator to fact check’
Featured image via screencap