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How the Biden-Trump debate will play out on TV (don’t expect verification)



“There is a big difference between being a moderator in a debate and being a reporter who is interviewing someone,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a co-chair of the debate committee, told CNN on Sunday. “We don’t expect Chris or our other moderators to fact check. By the time the TV goes down, there will be many fact-checkers in every newspaper and every TV station in the world. That’s not the role, the role. principal of our moderators. “

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Some media experts have asked television networks to impose their fact-checks in real time, through on-screen graphics, clarifying captions or splits to journalists offering context. Anchors from CNN and MSNBC occasionally raided speeches during the Republican National Convention in August, pointing out falsehoods or baseless allegations.

This interventionist approach is less likely to occur on Tuesday, according to executives and producers from several television networks. Unlike conventions, executives said, debates are intended as unfiltered evidence of candidates’ ingenuity, endurance and ability to persuade the electorate.

“The debate is one of the rare opportunities where the audience sees both presidential candidates together on the same stage, where they have the opportunity not only to respond and address each other, but to speak directly to the American public,” said Caitlin Conant. the political director of CBS News. “We don’t want to put ourselves among the voters and candidates”.

This does not mean that Ms. Conant or other executives intend to avoid correcting the falsehoods. CBS, for example, has its Washington correspondent, Major Garrett, awaiting fact-finding during its prime-time broadcast. CNN’s internal Trump verifier, Daniel Dale, will be featured on the network’s coverage. Many television news agencies provide real-time analysis and verification on their websites.

On Sunday on Fox News, Mr. Wallace said he had “a lot of stuff” to cover in 90 minutes, citing the coronavirus, racial tensions, economic problems and protests across the country. Just this weekend, the president appointed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and the New York Times published a major investigation revealing that Trump had not paid any federal income tax in 10 of the 15 years prior to 2017.

How many spectators can even be influenced by Tuesday’s works is an open question.

According to a poll this month by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, about 70 percent of Americans said the debates wouldn’t be very important to their final vote. The poll found that 44% of respondents said the debates would have no importance.


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