So here is my question: Why can’t moderators do some fact-checking during the debate?
What would have been so bad about Lehrer saying “Governor Romney, all the tax policies you’ve described until this very moment have been the opposite of what you just said. How do you explain the discrepancy?”
Or, “Mr. President, why do you keep counting war money as future savings, when you’re planning to end those wars several years before we get to that budget?”
Because only underemployed politics junkies (ahem) are going to read the fact-checking the next day.
Wouldn’t it have been simple to have the PBS staff give Lehrer a magic earpiece and feed him the most egregious Pinocchios, so that he could call the dudes on it while the whole world was watching?
Romney had no problem calling pants-on-fire for some of Obama’s interpretations of Romney’s policy. But when Obama tried to do the same, he sounded like he was sitting for a Master’s level oral examination. I know that this stuff is complex, but it’s easy to say “Governor Romney, what you just said is the opposite of what you’ve been saying for a year.”
But why should it be the candidates’ jobs to fact-check each other?
Couldn’t Lehrer say to Romney, Dude, after a year of campaigning to the Tea Party, why are you suddenly the centrist hero of Taxachusetts?
OK, now check this out: I watched about 25 minutes of post-debate news coverage, first on PBS and then on NBC. Every single person. Every single person. All of them talked only about the theatrical presentation. The body language. The facial expressions.
By that measure, sure, I guess Romney did better?
But what about the words the candidates were actually saying? It apparently took a whole day for the news media to muster some comments on the that.
A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart asked a news dude (maybe Brian Williams?) when journalism and fact-checking became separate jobs.
If our media could pay attention to the words, and do some quick online searches while the candidates are “Let me be clear”ing and “To be fair”ing, they could come up with something a little more useful than “that was the most substantive presidential debate we’ve had in years!” and “My god, those men can express thoughts!” and “He looked so confident!” While the world is watching.
Because undecided voters are not going to spend all morning combing the fact-checking sites. And I don’t care how confident a guy looks, if his policies are going to devastate poor and middle-class people.