Should Presidential Candidates do Fact-Checking?

  • What is the role of moderator?

Venkata Kondubhatla

The executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates Janet Brown advised the moderators to let the candidates take care of the fact check on each other.

Traditionally, moderators were responsible for the quality of the talk in the debates,correcting the candidates and conveying facts to the viewers, but this season their duties seem to alter a little and how they are going to manage is interesting to watch.

Selected moderators are usually senior journalists with lots of experience in conducting interviews and debates. They filter the questions and prepare the structure of the debate. They are responsible in setting the path and direction.

This season, the candidates have moved far away from the truth and reality in the speeches and their bickering than any of the previous candidates. Especially Trump has made many back and forth statements that contradicted his earlier statements. Clinton was proved lying in her defense on her wrongdoing in the charges laid against her.

It’s not that blustering and lying hadn’t happened in the past, but the politicians were subtle in making remarks that were false, and they had never crossed the limit. Now, the political atmosphere is different.

Trump led in taking the rhetoric away from the truth and Clinton followed him. Naturally, journalists have become more vocal and rather than stating the candidates’ remarks, as usually practised in journalism, as he said or she said, they began to correct the candidates with fact checks risking balance.

Correcting the candidates and more frequently with the one making the most mistakes has a danger of looking biased in favor of candidate making fewer mistakes. And that’s exactly what the moderators were advised to avoid during the debates.

But will Clinton be better off correcting Trump’s mistakes or using the time to convey her views and stance on policies?

If Clinton focuses on promoting her views and strategies, Trump mistakes go unchallenged and vice versa. Viewers may end up getting uncorrected false statements, which may win the hearts of the undecided.

That brings back to the larger question as to who is responsible for checking the facts when candidates make irresponsible remarks.

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