Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Chris Wallace won't fact-check candidates at tonight's debate, but several news outlets plan to do so live

Many pundits have lauded the choice of Fox News' Chris Wallace as the moderator for tonight's presidential debate in Cleveland, based on the veteran reporter's solid handling of a 2016 presidential debate and his history of pushing back in interviews, especially with President Trump. But the "Fox News Sunday" anchor said he won't fact-check the candidates during the debate, and said on Sunday that his job is to be "as invisible as possible."

Frank J. Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the bipartisan nonprofit group that runs the debate, told CNN on Sunday that Wallace and other moderators are not expected to be fact-checkers. Fahrenkopf said that, if one candidate says something incorrect during the debate, it's the other candidate's job to bring it up.

However, the lack of live fact-checking may leave many viewers with faulty information, "particularly given Mr. Trump’s tendency to hurl false and baseless claims at his opponents," Michael Grynbaum reports for The New York Times. That's because many viewers don't read fact-checks afterward.

"Lying works on live television," said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, in the same CNN segment as the Fahrenkopf interview. Live fact-checking is "generally not terribly effective," Lukasiewicz said. 

Nevertheless, several major news outlets plan to provide fact-checking live online. USA Today will livestream the debate online with a nationwide team of journalists providing facts and context on-screen during the debate. Click here to view their livestream and see the list of political reporters who will be weighing in.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker team, headed by Glenn Kessler, will also do live fact checks during the debate accessible from a blog on the homepage. NBC News and CNN will also do live blogs of the debate with fact-checking and analysis.

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