Here’s a wake-up call for those who were expecting a fair and fact checked debate. Watch MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough help Donald Trump by arguing that debate moderators should not fact check.
JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): And let me say too, I said earlier today it was up to Hillary Clinton, if he doesn’t play by the rules, for her to not play by the rules, To keep going to him – It’s the same thing with Lester Holt, who by the way, I thought it was very funny. It was “Lester is a Democrat. Lester is a liberal.” All this other stuff. And there’s a release that he’s like a registered, like, Republican in New York or something like that.
TODD: What Trump is doing is so ham-handed, right? This whole, like, attack moderators and try to work the refs is ridiculous.
SCARBOROUGH: Right, but what I’m saying is though, it’s also up to Lester too, if he goes — to just keep hammering and just to keep going, not to be like Candy Crowley and put himself in the middle of it, but if he doesn’t answer the question, keep after it. And I guess the —
TODD: This debate is not about Lester. This debate is about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Let’s remember this. And I —
SCARBOROUGH: Moderators are extraordinarily important. And so, yes, it is about Lester and it is about the candidates and it is about does Donald Trump get to on stage and completely blow through all of the guard rails. So, I think its extraordinarily important —
TODD: I’m with you on — it’s up to Hillary Clinton. If he’s going to flout the rules, this becomes the challenge and this is probably why she’s spending more time in prep. And this is where I think he’s going to regret not doing prep. They’re throwing every fastball. They’re throwing, you know, they’re going to hit her with everything. The nastiest stuff. It won’t be new to her. I think they’re expecting the kitchen sink. So I think if Trump is really not prepping very well, he may regret it.
SCARBOROUGH: And by the way, on the Lester front, I just want to — there’s been this great debate out there, like Ron Fournier said you need to be the fact-checker. No. Bob Schieffer is not a fact-checker. [Jim] Lehrer wasn’t a fact-checker.
The mentality that Todd and Scarborough expressed is why trust in the media has plummeted to a new low. There is an idea across corporate media that reporters should be glorified stenographers, and the fact checking should be left to fact checkers. Todd and Scarborough were extending this policy to debate moderators.
The same network that brought voters the Matt Lauer candidate forum debacle is arguing that debate moderators shouldn’t fact check with follow-up questions. This is the same mentality that has allowed Donald Trump to run wild and tell lie after lie.
Joe Scarborough referred to Jim Lehrer and Bob Schieffer as two debate moderators who didn’t fact check. They are also the moderators who were criticized for holding the two worst debates of 2012.
Candidates are willing to play fast and loose with the truth at historic levels. Politics has changed, and the media’s attempt justify not fact checking is not only bad for the nation’s democratic process, but it is also eroding journalism and the role of the Fourth Estate.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association