The most anticipated event of fall 2016 is surely the first presidential debate, being held at Hofstra University on September 26th. I will, above all else, be glued to the television for the pure entertainment aspect of this first meeting between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Monday night showdown will be a spectacle, and another historic moment in American elections. As such, the candidates should still focus on the issues, and be honest about their positions, right?
The moderator for the first debate will be NBC’s Lester Holt, a fairly evenhanded man who will hopefully keep the two candidates, and their words, within the bounds of decency – and truth. Despite his character, the Clinton campaign has strongly ‘suggested’ that Mr. Holt double as a fact-checker for this debate.
The Washington Post’s Abby Phillip’s recent article, “Clinton campaign: Not fact-checking Trump during debate will give him ‘unfair advantage,’” articulates the Democratic candidate’s fear. It is obvious that Clinton is fearful of Trump’s potential to publicly, and successfully, shame her. If that were to come to fruition, she would surely find sympathy in many Americans, even those who don’t much care for her. However, if Clinton were to cozy up to Mr. Holt now, it would simply worsen the public’s perception of her as corrupt.
While I believe that this request is improper on the part of Clinton, I do believe that real time fact-checking should play some role in the debates. Most importantly, it would counter the recent polling by Pew Research Center, which found that most Americans believe that the media has been too easy on the candidates. That said, the emergence of truth and integrity shouldn’t fall solely on the shoulders of Lester Holt. With a fact-checking court of public opinion stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it is our jobs as voters and viewers to keep up with these debates, and flush out a lie when we find one. This duty is as great as casting a ballot on November 8th.