Hours after the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published separate stories outlining the lies Donald Trump has told during his presidential campaign, Trump’s campaign spokesperson told ABC’s “This Week” that it isn’t the media’s job to factcheck the presidential debate.
“I really don’t appreciate the campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers,” Kellyanne Conway said, in an apparent attempted jab at the Clinton campaign. She also opposed debate moderators questioning the candidates’ truthfulness in any way.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 25, 2016
Conway went on to praise Matt Lauer’s performance during a candidate forum earlier this month, during which he pressed Clinton on several issues, but accepted Trump’s (false) claim that he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning.
“We thought he did a great job,” Conway said.
The traditional role of the media in a free society is to inform the public. Generally, this is thought to include making the public aware of what is true and what is a lie. The Trump campaign appears to feel differently.
And they have at least some members of the media on their side. One presidential debate moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, has already said that he will not factcheck the candidates during the third and final debate on Oct. 19.
“That’s not my job,” Wallace said. “It’s not my job to be a truth squad.”
The head of the Commission on Presidential Debates agreed Sunday. Speaking on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Janet Brown said that it’s not the moderator’s job to factcheck. “What is a big fact, what is a little fact?” she said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
But the Clinton campaign says its not her job to play “traffic cop” to Trump’s lies while also trying to present her ideas to the American public.
“All that we’re asking is that if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out,” spokesperson Robby Mook said Sunday, also speaking on “This Week.”
Whoever is left to factcheck Trump will have a big job ahead of them. The Los Angeles Times wrote Sunday that the “scope of Trump’s falsehoods [are] unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate.”
Indeed, covering Trump’s lies has become a beat of its own during this campaign. News channels have taken to factchecking the candidate in real time, overlaying his speeches with labels like “falsely,” or parentheticals with the accurate version of his statements. It is widely anticipated that Trump will repeat some of the lies he has made on the campaign trail during Monday’s debate.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to include comments from Janet Brown.