CNN Defends Decision to Not Fact-Check Debate Live: ‘It Is Up to the Candidates to Challenge One Another’

CNN, facing an avalanche of criticism for letting false claims by Donald Trump go unchecked during Thursday night’s debate with President Biden, defended its decision to not intervene to correct misstatements live on-air.

In a statement to Variety, a CNN spokesperson said, “The role of the moderators is to present the candidates with questions that are important to American voters and to facilitate a debate, enabling candidates to make their case and challenge their opponent. It is up to the candidates to challenge one another in a debate.”

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The statement continued, “CNN offered robust fact-checking coverage in post-debate analysis on TV and across our digital platforms during and following the debate’s conclusion.”

According to CNN’s own analysis of the debate, Trump made more than 30 false claims during the debate, while Biden made at least nine false or misleading statements.

The format for the debate, in which CNN moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash would act as facilitators and not step in as fact-checkers, was agreed to by both Trump and Biden camps. But the litany of falsehoods, particularly from Trump, that were aired without pushback on CNN yielded a strong backlash from media critics and others.

“CNN’s moderating decisions damage the credibility of our profession,” Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah wrote on X. “CNN’s format of no fact checking, no pushback, no follow-ups was a mistake. The Biden campaign agreeing to this was a mistake. It demonstrates Trump’s strength and power. He can bend the media and Biden to play by his rules.”

More to come.

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