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Presidential Debate Moderators Not Expected To Fact-Check Candidates, Debate Commission Says

Topline

Presidential Debate Commission co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. said Sunday that presidential debate moderators are not expected to fact-check either candidate ahead of the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

Key Facts

Fahrenkopf said on CNN’s Reliable Sources that there’s a “vast difference” between “a moderator in a debate” and a “reporter who is interviewing someone.”

“The minute the TV is off, there are going to be plenty of fact-checkers at every newspaper and every television station in the world,” Fahrenkopf added, noting, “that’s not the main role of our moderators.”

Fahrenkopf pitched the Commission’s role in laissez faire terms, stating that its function is to “put on television, before the people of the United States, the two candidates,” and that the candidates “will act as they are going to act” but that the Commission “has no control over that.”

The comments come just after Trump demanded the Commission administer drug tests based on an unfounded conspiracy theory that Biden needs performance enhancing drugs for debates, though Frankenkopf rejected drug testing as “not within our bailiwick.”

A handful of Democrats have called for Biden not to participate in the debates, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accusing Trump of lacking an “association with truth, evidence, data, facts” and saying Biden should not “dignify that conversation.” 

Biden has acknowledged those concerns, proposing earlier this month that candidates be “instantly fact-checked by an agreed-to group of people” through a “crawler” on TV screens.

Chief Critic

“So basically, both Biden and Wallace have said they won’t fact-check the president on Tuesday night at the debate. So Trump gets to do what he does best, with aid of a massive national platform: tell brazen lies again & again, without interruption or rebuttal. Great. Amazing,” tweeted left-wing columnist Mehdi Hasan.

Big Number

20,055. That’s how many false or misleading claims Trump has made in 1,267 days as president, according to the Washington Post. Glenn Kessler, the Post’s fact-checker, tweeted “the trendline is getting worse and worse the closer we get to the election,” adding that, each day, Trump makes “at least 35 false claims. Many days, 100+”

Surprising Fact

Contrary to the usual strategy of raising expectations for one’s opponent, Trump has long lowered expectations for Biden. In addition to his claims that Biden needs performance enhancing drugs, Trump has cast Biden as mentally and physically frail, and said earlier this month that Biden’s Democratic primary debate showings were “the worst debate performances I’ve ever seen.” That has culminated in Trump holding a narrow polling edge in who people think will win the debate, meaning he enters with heightened expectations.

What To Watch For

Fox News Host Chris Wallace will moderate the first debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully will moderate the second on Oct. 15 in Miami, Florida, and NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker will moderate the third on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. The vice presidential debate will take place on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah and will be moderated by USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.

Source: Forbes – Business

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