There seems to be one point of agreement among the political parties: This election is the most important in a generation. It is also clear that an increasing number of distortions, half-truths and actual falsehoods are polluting the political discourse, and creating confusion and resentment among the public. As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts." This is a non-partisan effort to bring the Commission on Presidential Debates, the political parties, the networks and technology firms together to "hold feet to the fire" and institute real or near real time fact checking into these crucial debates.
Establish Real Time Fact Checking During Political Debates
I call on you to support an initiative to bring real or near real time fact checking to the presidential and vice presidential debates.
As our technology and the number of media channels have increased, so too has the distribution of false or misleading information. It is time that we reverse this phenomenon.
Currently, the news media and political fact checking organizations provide analyses after the debates have concluded. Unfortunately, as important as this function is, it may be too late. Misinformation is difficult to retract and, harder still, to erase from one’s memory. Furthermore, far fewer people stay tuned for the analyses or read the follow up news articles the next day.
During the course of the debates, all of the statements should be verified through the vast holdings of credible, objective knowledge. In addition, out-of-context remarks or assertions would be reviewed and addressed. No opinion sites, blogs or political party sources would be part of the fact checking database – only transcripts, proceedings and testimony; almanacs and atlases; laws, regulations and policy statements; credible survey data, and non-partisan news articles, journals and research reports.
Ideas include a box on the screen that displays a true/not true or green/red or similar indicator of validity. And, before the candidates shake hands and leave the stage, there should be a final segment where they are confronted with any false or misleading claims and are asked to address the issues right then and there.