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  • Trump And The Pitfalls Of Relying On Stop-And-Frisk Myths Three Years Too Late

     After Lester Holt Fact Check, Trump Now Confused About What Version Of Stop And Frisk He Wants

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    One of the dangers of haphazardly reviving right-wing media myths is that some falsehoods are much trickier than others to walk back. During the first presidential debate of 2016, GOP nominee Donald Trump learned this the hard way, when moderator Lester Holt of NBC News fact-checked him cold about the unconstitutional version of stop and frisk that the Republican presidential nominee recently proposed as a nationwide model.

    During the September 26 debate, Trump once again invoked his support for New York City’s past application of stop and frisk, which was struck down by a federal judge three years ago and abandoned on appeal, much to the disappointment of right-wing media proponents of “order” over constitutional protections. When Holt responded that “stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men,” Trump snapped back, “No, you’re wrong. … If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it's allowed.”

    But Holt was right. And that’s true without even getting into the fact that contrary to Trump’s assertions, the tactic was a proven failure at reducing violent crime in New York City.

    The generalized police practice of stop and frisk may be a common one used across the country, but if the way it’s specifically practiced results in racial profiling, it violates the federal Constitution’s protections against equal protection violations and unlawful search and seizure. That’s exactly what happened in the since-abandoned version practiced in New York City, which was exactly what Holt pointed out. If that’s the version Trump supports, he is supporting an unconstitutional policy that impermissibly discriminates on the basis of race. If he instead merely supports the version that is “allowed” “throughout the country,” then how is that a solution for reducing crime rates when it’s already in effect?

    This issue first cropped up during this campaign season on September 21, when Fox News’ Sean Hannity hosted a town hall for Trump, this one advertised as part of the nominee’s outreach to African-American voters. During the recorded event (which was bumped from airing that night due to protests over another questionable police shooting of a black man, this time in Charlotte, NC), Trump made the surprising proposal that his plan for protecting black residents of the “inner cities” was to bring back the widely reviled New York twist on stop and frisk that was struck down in federal court as unconstitutional racial profiling.

    When Trump’s unaired comments leaked, media outlets immediately began calling out his support for an abandoned and racially discriminatory policing method as a peculiar form of outreach to black voters. In response, the next morning Trump falsely claimed on the September 22 edition of Fox & Friends that he really only meant that it should be brought back in Chicago – a city he apparently was unaware already employs the practice.

    It was these confusing contradictions -- and Trump’s refusal to admit that his much-promoted “outreach” to African-American voters included a promise to stop and search them on the street because of the color of their skin -- that led Holt to try to set the record straight during the debate.

    In the wake of this and the many other aspects of Trump’s disastrous debate performance, the nominee’s supporters began spinning hard, including by making the false claim that Holt had somehow claimed stop and frisk was unconstitutional everywhere. Trump supporter, former New York City mayor, and frequent stop-and-frisk defender Rudolph Giuliani was particularly vocal. First he falsely smeared Holt’s fact check, arguing on Fox News that “Lester Holt's statement was completely ignorant and completely uncalled for, and he shouldn't get involved in a legal issue he doesn't know a darn thing about.” Later, Giuliani added Clinton to his criticism on the issue, saying she’s “totally wrong and completely ignorant” about stop and frisk. He also tried to separate himself from the actions of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who were at the helm when the stop-and-frisk policies they inherited from Giuliani’s mayorship were ruled unconstitutional. “It’s not unconstitutional if you do it the right way -- and that's what [Trump] is talking about, doing it the right way,” said Giuliani. “It was never found unconstitutional when I did it.”

    But Trump has specifically praised Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policies that were ruled unconstitutional – and he recently affirmed (intentionally or not) that this unconstitutional version of the practice still has his support.

    And this was the dilemma Trump faced as Holt accurately fact-checked his embrace of New York City’s past application of unconstitutional stop and frisk. The right-wing media bubble out of which Trump plucked his stop-and-frisk soundbite has regularly been concerned with “order” first and the U.S. Constitution second (if ever). If he stuck with that, at least it would be intellectually honest. On the other hand, the “doing it the right way” stop and frisk approach Giuliani is falling back on to cover up for Trump has been in place for almost 50 years under the Supreme Court decision Terry v. Ohio -- so there’s no need for Trump to claim he’ll bring it back.

    So which one is it?

    It’s not Lester Holt’s fault that Trump and his surrogates can’t or won’t explain themselves. Some myths can’t survive outside the bubble.

  • Fox News’ Sham Effort To Prove Donald Trump Isn’t Lying About Iraq

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    There is no Donald Trump lie better-documented than his constantly repeated falsehood that he opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. During last night’s debate, he was pummeled on the issue by moderator Lester Holt and numerous fact-checkers. Dutifully doing damage control for the Republican nominee, Fox News is now trying to obscure the record, claiming that “history backs The Donald.”

    As numerous fact-checkers have noted, contrary to his claims that he was “totally against the war in Iraq” from the beginning, in 2002, more than six months before the invasion of Iraq, Trump was asked by radio host Howard Stern if he was “for invading Iraq.” He responded, “Yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

    Trump struggled to explain why he keeps lying about this during the September 26 debate as Holt repeatedly pointed out that he had originally supported the war. At one point, Trump claimed that he had done “an interview with [Fox News anchor] Neil Cavuto” which he claimed vindicated him.

    But the Cavuto interview in question has been reviewed by numerous fact-checkers that concluded it did not support his claims to be against the war. Fox News, on the other hand, is ready and willing to use the interview to clear Trump of a months-long campaign of lies.

    An unbylined FoxNews.com article claimed Trump was right, reporting that the January 2003 interview “backs up Trump on Iraq War opposition”:

    After all the clamor for moderators to fact-check the candidates during Monday night's presidential debate, Donald Trump flipped the script on Lester Holt by rejecting his assertion Trump backed the war in Iraq - and history backs The Donald.

    [...]

    Cavuto himself picked up the thread post-debate on Fox Business Network, unearthing the clip Trump referenced, from January 28, 2003 – Nearly two months before the Iraq War began on March 20. In the video, Cavuto asks Trump how much time President Bush should spend on the economy vs. on Iraq.

    “Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy,” Trump said. “They’re getting a little bit tired of hearing ‘We’re going in, we’re not going in.’ Whatever happened to the days of Douglas MacArthur? Either do it or don’t do it.”

    Trump continued: “Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.”

    Fox’s article ignores that Trump’s comments came three months after the war was authorized; that Trump did not explicitly say he opposed the invasion during that interview; or that Trump again did not say that he opposed the invasion in a subsequent interview with Cavuto in March 2003, after the war began, when he said that it “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

    BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski called the Fox article “embarrassing” and “complete bullshit,” noting that fact-checkers had reviewed the “unearth[ed]” clip and concluded that it did not support Trump’s claims, while Fox had framed it “exactly how Trump wanted you to.” Indeed:

    • CNN has reported that Trump “never said [the war] should not be undertaken” during the Cavuto interview, adding, “It wasn't until August 2004 -- 17 months after the invasion began and the war was being widely criticized -- that Trump came out fully against the war.” CNN concluded that Trump had lied about being against the war from the start.

    • Factcheck.org noted that Trump “offers no opinion on what Bush should do” during the January 2003 Cavuto interview, concluding that there is “no evidence” Trump fought against the invasion.

    • The Washington Post FactChecker blog has repeatedly referenced the Cavuto quote, noting that Trump did not take a position on the invasion during that interview and frequently criticizing Trump’s claims about opposing the war from the beginning as “bogus.”

    • PolitiFact pointed out that Trump “didn’t speak against going to war” during the Cavuto interview, concluding that Trump’s claims about opposing the war are false.

    Only Fox News is willing to claim that the Cavuto interview “backs The Donald.” That’s not surprising given their months-long campaign in support of Trump.

  • Lewandowski Has CNN Blessing To Work With Trump, Says He Needs Approval To Answer Our Questions

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Lewandowski

    Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski refused to answer questions from Media Matters about the ongoing payments he is receiving from the Trump campaign while he serves as a CNN contributor, claiming he can’t answer media questions without network approval. While CNN apparently won’t let Lewandowski talk to the press, the network doesn’t seem to mind him continuing to coordinate with and advise the Trump campaign.

    Media Matters president Bradley Beychok approached Lewandowski at the site of the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, and questioned him about the monthly payments he has been receiving from the campaign.

    In response, Lewandowski said, “You’ve got to talk to CNN because I can’t do any media without getting their approval. So if you can check in with those guys, that’d be great.”

    Asked if he believed there was a conflict of interest in his role, where he is doing political commentary on Trump’s presidential campaign while still being paid by them, Lewandowski again referred questions to CNN.

    CNN’s continued employment of Lewandowski runs contrary to their previously stated policy that a person being “paid” by a campaign “would not be permitted to be a CNN contributor.”

    In the Trump campaign’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, it was revealed that Lewandowski’s company Green Monster Consulting LLC received $20,000 for “strategy consulting.” That payment was made in August, while Lewandowski was hired by CNN in June. The campaign has claimed the payments to Lewandowski are for “severance,” but did not explain to the New York Times “why the payments were not described as severance to the F.E.C.”

    While he serves as a CNN contributor and continues to draw a monthly 5-figure payday from the campaign, Lewandowski has continued to work with Trump -- he was reportedly involved in helping to prepare the Republican nominee for this week’s debate.

    On the same day he declined to answer Media Matters’ questions, Lewandowski appeared on CNN and blamed debate moderator Lester Holt for Trump’s poor performance in the event.

    CNN should cut its ties with Lewandowski immediately.

  • Following Widespread Derision Of Debate Performance, Trump Returns To Fox Cocoon While Surrogates Do Real Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump retreated to Fox News’ Fox & Friends for a friendly interview following widespread criticism of his September 26 presidential debate performance which was deemed a loss for Trump, while his campaign surrogates took real interviews on other cable and broadcast news networks.

    Journalists across the political spectrum lambasted Trump’s September 26 presidential debate performance, criticizing the false statements he made -- and that debate moderator Lester Holt repeatedly challenged -- on numerous issues including the Iraq War, birtherism, and his tax returns.  Reporters noted that Trump spent much of the debate on the defensive regarding those issues and that he repeatedly interrupted both Holt and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Other media figures slammed Trump for bragging that he got President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate and for his false claim that Clinton’s 2008 campaign started the racist birther conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace. Voters and commentators proclaimed that Trump had lost the debate to Clinton, with some calling the performance “an unmitigated disaster” and a “terrible night” for Trump.

    The following day, Trump retreated to Fox News to discuss the debate with the hosts of Fox & Friends. The show has a history of buddying up with Trump, giving him a platform to push false claims including that President Obama was not born in the United States, and Trump has lauded the show’s hosts in return. The show’s September 27 interview with Trump continued its softball history with the candidate. Rather than challenging Trump on any of his false statements, the hosts asked questions such as, “So how do you think it went last night?” and, “Do you feel that Lester Holt asked Hillary Clinton an equal number of hostile questions?” The hosts joined Trump in criticizing Holt, with co-host Steve Doocy claiming he “leaned a little over into the left lane” in contrast to Matt Lauer’s “fair and balanced” performance at NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum (for which Lauer has been widely criticized). Co-host Ainsley Earhardt even praised Trump for his response to Clinton’s accurate claim that the federal government had sued him for housing discrimination, saying, “I did like how you responded to that, though, because when they throw those things at you, and you’re -- being in the audience, I didn't know about that. And then when you explain it, then you’re like, ‘Oh, OK, well that makes sense.’” The hosts also gave Trump space to attack, without any pushback, a former Miss Universe winner and to insult her weight.

    In contrast with Trump’s cocoon on Fox’s morning show, Trump surrogates took harder interviews at other networks. Hosts on NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning challenged Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), about why Trump took credit for spurring President Obama to release his birth certificate, about whether Trump “lie[d]” when he falsely claimed he never said climate change was a hoax, and why Trump bragged about possibly not paying taxes. On CNN’s New Day and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the hosts pressed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway over whether Trump’s birther answer was appropriate and whether he would apologize for his birther campaign. They also asked about Trump’s climate change stance and the quality of Trump’s debate performance overall.

    Trump’s retreat to Fox News continues a recent trend. Fox media reporter Howard Kurtz reported in June that Trump was scaling back on interviews with networks other than Fox. A Media Matters analysis found that between September 7, when Trump appeared on NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum, and September 22, Trump gave seven interviews to Fox News, totaling more than 1 hour and 40 minutes of airtime. During the same time frame, he had not appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC. Given Trump’s withdrawal to a network that repeatedly delivers softball interviews, it perhaps is not surprising that he struggled when he was actually fact-checked by a journalist at the debate. Responding to CNN host Carol Costello’s observation that Trump’s Fox & Friends interview did not include “difficult questions,” CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter noted that Trump had “mostly sheltered himself within conservative media” and said that he had “doubts about whether it's a winning strategy now.” And as The New York Times’ Alex Burns noted of the Fox & Friends interview, “[T]his is how you end up unprepared for real questions and real heat in a debate.”

  • Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Told Univision In May That Trump Treated Her Terribly

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s record of mistreating women, highlighting his attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he referred to as “Miss Piggy.” Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.”

    Machado appeared on Univision’s Al Punto in May after a New York Times report about Trump’s treatment of women in private described the insults and humiliation Trump subjected her to during her time as Miss Universe. Machado told host Jorge Ramos that Trump had treated her terribly and had mocked her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” and saying she was an “eating machine.” She also said the experience had caused her “huge emotional pain.” From the May 22 edition of Univision’s Al Punto:

    Translated transcript:

    JORGE RAMOS (HOST): What happened? What happened when you win Miss Universe in 1996, you were 18 years old, and then the New York Times report says you had gained weight after. Enter Donald Trump; what happened?

    ALICIA MACHADO: Well, first I want to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the Hispanic community, with all the love I’ve always had for it in the past 20 years, to tell them that all of what’s happening with my voice is not something I have sought out. It’s something that has come to me. The people from The New York Times have come to me and asked me to speak for this report, along with other women who’ve had the opportunity or had the experience of being close to Trump, women of different socioeconomic status and careers.

    RAMOS: And how did Donald Trump treat you?

    MACHADO: Terribly, and this isn't something new for me to say. I’ve been saying this for 20 years, what I lived through in that year, how that affected me as a person, I suffered a lot of psychological violence.

    RAMOS: We’re going to show a video of you, when you get there, and you told this story to the NYT, you get to the gym--

    MACHADO: Yes and I had no idea any of this was going to happen.

    RAMOS: You didn’t know there was going to be media?

    MACHADO: No, I didn’t know anything at all. All that I can say about Trump is something I can prove, it’s all documented, I’m not making anything up.

    RAMOS: These reporters, you didn't know they would be there.

    MACHADO: No, I didn’t know they were going to be there. This happened about four months -- yes, I think it was around December or November, because I remember it was really cold in New York. And I had won in May, so it wasn’t like I gained weight immediately. I won the best body in Miss Universe that year, I lifted a lot of weights. It was the time where fit bodies were starting to become trendy, “light” things were trendy.

    RAMOS: How did all of this affect you?

    MACHADO: A lot. I'm going to tell you quickly, I went to the company and asked them for help, I went to their office in Los Angeles. I told them I had gained weight, I don't feel happy, if you put me with a nutritionist I can lose this weight quickly. They told me pack your bags you're going to New York. I said great, I go to New York, and the next day they tell me we’re going to a gym, to set me up with a personal trainer, and a diet. And when I arrived at the gym, I find all this [media] circus. And I tell him I don’t want to do it, that I was embarrassed. And he said, "I don't care, I pay you for this, smile.”

    RAMOS: You have a big social media presence. One of your followers asked, "Why did it take you so long to denounce this?"

    MACHADO: Because he wasn't running for president before, I think -- he's not going to run a casino, he's going to run a great nation, the United States. I also had to overcome a huge emotional pain that even now when I remember it I am upset about it --

    RAMOS: You responded saying, "I didn't think he could ever be a presidential candidate and when I was 18 I was afraid [of speaking out]. Without fear." You were scared of Donald Trump?

    MACHADO: Of course. Very afraid, I was very afraid of him. How could I not be, if was coming from a city at 18 years old as a beauty queen, I didn't have a multimillionaire family that could support me against such a powerful man. So I want to take the opportunity to tell voters in this election -- this country and the world does not need a man who can just do business. I also think we need a good human being, a person with a good heart, and I am totally and absolutely convinced that Donald Trump is not a person that has a good heart.

    RAMOS: You will become a citizen of the United States soon?

    MACHADO: Yes, I want to be able to vote, to have the moral authority to be able to fight for the well-being of this country. I forgave Trump for this episode and other things that happened in that time --

    RAMOS: What else did you see, in Donald Trump and his treatment of other people?

    MACHADO: I'm just going to be talking about my own experience. What I lived was not pleasant, it was humiliating. He's a cold, calculating person, he’s a man that has very little consideration for anyone he thinks is inferior.

    RAMOS: He called you Miss Piggy once?

    MACHADO: He called me Miss Piggy, he called me Miss Housekeeping, he called me an eating machine. And I would argue with him saying that I'm Latina and have a little bit more than others.

    RAMOS: You considered in an insult at that time?

    MACHADO: Yes of course, and it was also how he said it. It’s not just what they say to you, it’s also how they say it.

  • VIDEO: Lester Holt Proved We Need Fact-Checking In Debates

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA & COLEMAN LOWNDES

    Lester Holt challenged Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on claims he made during the first presidential debate, highlighting the value of having moderators who are willing to fact-check false claims in real-time.

    During the September 26 presidential debate, moderator Holt challenged Trump on inaccurate claims the candidate made about releasing his tax returns, promoting the birther conspiracy, and supporting the war in Iraq:

    Holt stayed out of much of the debate, but intervened when Trump made glaring factual errors about his own record. Holt’s restraint made his fact-checks more powerful, drawing significant attention to Trump’s falsehoods, and tripping up the candidate before he could turn those lies into attacks on his opponent.

    Holt’s fact-checking likely had a significant impact on the millions of voters for whom the debate was a first hard look at the candidates. But it’s just one battle in the larger struggle over whether moderators should fact-check the candidates in real-time. Both campaigns have argued over the issue, with Trump’s campaign predictably arguing that moderators should stay out of factual disputes during the debates.

    That argument has gained some notable supporters -- NBC’s Matt Lauer was harshly criticized for failing to fact-check Trump’s claims about opposing the Iraq War during this month’s presidential forum. Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate the final presidential debate, has already said he doesn’t believe it’s job to be a “truth squad.” Even the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates told CNN recently that moderators shouldn’t be fact-checkers.

    But leaving the fact-checking to the candidates, rather than the moderators, can contribute to spreading misinformation among voters. Research suggests that audiences that watch this kind of “he said/she said” debate end up feeling less capable of figuring out the truth, causing some to give up trying to resolve factual disputes altogether. Moderators who can carefully choose to intervene during important factual disputes offer a powerful antidote to that kind of passive misinformation.

    Lester Holt’s performance set a powerful example of the value that measured fact-checks can have in keeping candidate’s honest. If the other debate moderators follow his lead, they’ll be doing voters, and the whole of campaign journalism, a real service.

  • ABC’s Tom Llamas Lets Trump Lie About Loan His Father Gave To Him

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    ABC’s Tom Llamas failed to fact-check Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s lies that his father loaned him a “small amount of money” to start his business and that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s statement that the loan from Trump’s father was actually $14 million was “wrong.” Indeed, “Clinton is right about Trump’s … $14 million loan,” according to Politico.

    During the September 26 presidential debate, Clinton claimed that Trump “started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father.” Trump responded that Clinton was wrong, saying, “My father gave me a very small loan in 1975 and I built it into a company that's worth many, many billions of dollars.”

    A real-time Politico fact check found Clinton’s claim to be true. Politico linked to The Wall Street Journal, which “tracked down a 1985 casino-license disclosure that showed Trump’s father lent him $14 million.”

    Yet when Llamas interviewed Trump after the debate, he let Trump falsely claim that “the number [that Clinton said during the debate] was actually the wrong number”:

    TOM LLAMAS: Mr. Trump, [Hillary Clinton] attacked that loan you got, received from your father and then she also attacked some of the things you said about women. Do you feel that was fair for this presidential debate or were those cheap shots?

    DONALD TRUMP: I thought it was very cheap. You know, first of all, my father gave me a very small amount of money, relative to what I built. I built a massive company and a great company. But I learned so much from my father. I learned tremendous from my father Fred, who was my best friend. But the number was actually the wrong number, number one, and number two -- and it wasn't -- even that wasn't a big number compared to what I did. But I thought that was fair, except the number was wrong.

    Trump has a startling penchant for lying, and fact-checking is a must for journalists and reporters covering him.

  • Journalists Are Calling Out Trump's Debate Lies

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has unleashed a torrent of falsehoods during his campaign, spanning a wide range of issues. His disregard for the facts is again on display during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, and journalists and media outlets are calling him out on Twitter:

    Trump On Ford Leaving The U.S.

    Trump's Claim He Received A "Small Loan" From His Father

    Trump Denied Calling Climate Change A "Hoax"

    Trump's Refusal To Release His Tax Returns

    Trump's Advocacy For Stop-And-Frisk

    Trump's Years-Long Promotion Of Birther Conspiracies​

    Trump's Iraq War Support

    Trump's Remarks About Women​

    Trump On Ford Leaving The U.S.

    Trump's Claim He Received A "Small Loan" From His Father

    Trump Denied Calling Climate Change A "Hoax"

    Trump's Refusal To Release His Tax Returns

    Trump's Advocacy For Stop-And-Frisk

    Trump's Years-Long Promotion Of Birther Conspiracies

    Trump's Iraq War Support

    Trump's Remarks About Women

  • The Lowest Possible Bar: Politico Declares “Just By Showing Up, Trump Has Already Kind Of Won”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Nearly three hours prior to the first presidential debate, a Politico reporter posed the question, “Has [Donald] Trump already won?” The reporter concluded that “just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won” because he “could have a bad night” due to his lack of “intimate knowledge” of domestic or foreign policy, but he still won his party’s nomination. Politico’s question underscores the common theme among the media of setting different bars for Hillary Clinton and Trump to meet in order to judge their performance at the debate a success. From the September 26 Politico live blog:

    Donald Trump -- the reality TV star who announced his candidacy after awkwardly gliding down an escalator, and then proceeded to call Mexican immigrant rapists and criminals -- is about to stand on the debate stage next to Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major party, a woman who has been at the pinnacle of American public life for three decades.

    And that alone is a victory. Trump overcame long odds to get here, breaking all the rules of politics and offending a lot of people along the way.

    […]

    So, yeah -- of course Trump could have a bad night. He’s not likely to impress voters with his intimate knowledge of entitlement programs or Syrian rebel groups. And Clinton is an experienced and canny debater who knows domestic and foreign policy backwards and forwards. But just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won.

  • Polls Show Americans Want Moderators To Fact-Check During The Debates

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    A strong majority of Americans want the moderators of the presidential debates to fact-check the candidates, according to two new polls. The will of the voters comes contrary to that of Republican nominee Donald Trump (who journalists note has engaged in an unprecedented campaign of lies), his supporters in the media, and the moderator of the third presidential debate, Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    Media Matters has joined numerous journalists in calling on the presidential debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real time to ensure that viewers are not left with a “he said-she said” version of the facts. That effort is more important than ever given Trump’s unprecedented willingness to lie.

    Trump and his team have pushed back against suggestions that the moderators should call out candidates when they don't tell the truth, with Trump saying, “I think that the candidates should police themselves.” Trump’s allies at Fox News have also claimed “it’s not the job” of moderators to fact-check candidates, with Wallace saying they should not serve as a “truth squad.”

    Americans disagree.

    According to a Monmouth University poll released today, “Most voters (60%) believe one of the duties of the moderators is to fact check candidates who state false information during the debates. Only 31% say the moderators should leave it to the candidates to point out any false statements by their opponent.”

    Reuters similarly reported today, “In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue.”

    A voter explained to Reuters why this is so important:

    "It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real," said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Michigan. "It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it."

    According to both polls, Trump supporters were less likely than backers of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to support a fact-checking moderator.