Fox News Sunday anchor and moderator Chris Wallace will not be tasked with fact-checking the candidates in real-time tonight.
“We don’t expect Chris or our other moderators to be fact checkers,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., co-chair, the Commission on Presidential Debates, told CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” Sunday. “The minute the TV is off there will be plenty of fact checkers.”
The topics for Tuesday’s debate, selected by Wallace himself, include: Trump and Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, Covid-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election.
If one of the candidates says something incorrect onstage Tuesday, it is the other candidate’s job to raise concern and essentially fact check live, Fahrenkopf said.
While fact-checking one another would seem essential for candidates’ strategies, it isn’t easy to accomplish.
“The moderator is the facilitator,” Fahrenkophf, Jr. said. “When we choose moderators we make very clear to them that there’s a vast difference between being a moderator in a debate and being a reporter who is interviewing someone.”
A Biden aide with knowledge of the debate process told CNN that the former vice president doesn’t intend to fact-check Trump’s falsehoods, even if the President routinely pivots to them. That, the aide said, is the job of the moderator. Some Democratic strategists believe it is foolish for Biden to get bogged down in fact-checking Trump.
“The best way to deal with Trump … won’t be to try to fact-check him in real time or to let lies and absurdities go in the hope that moderators — or viewers — catch them,” wrote Philippe Reines, a former aide to Hillary Clinton who played Trump during her 2016 debate prep.
Instead, wrote Reines, Biden should preempt the President early in the debate by noting that he frequently tells lies.
CNN will be fact-checking tonight’s debate live. You can also visit CNN’s fact check database here.