Media Matters President Bradley Beychok: Lester Holt “Did A Very Good Job” As Debate Moderator Fact-Checking “Issues Of Big Importance”
Beychok: Fact-Checking "Should Be Used Sparingly" But Effectively, And Chris Wallace Should Have That "Tool In The Toolkit" At Third Debate
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From the October 11 edition of C-SPAN's Washington Journal:
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PEDRO ECHEVARRIA (HOST): From Twitter, someone asked about debate coverage and especially the role of the moderator. Richard says this, and because you talked about it previously: "Can a debate be truly moderated effectively if the moderator is preoccupied with fact-checking?"
BRADLEY BEYCHOK: I think so. And I think Lester Holt's a good example of this. Lester Holt in the first debate did very -- he used fact-checking sparingly, but when it was an issue of great importance, like Donald Trump supported the Iraq War, and getting that issue right, Lester Holt injected himself. I don't think that it's the moderator's role to make the distinction for the candidates or to interrupt them at every juncture, but of issues of big importance like the Iraq War, I thought Lester Holt did a very good job. And I would also point to yesterday, Martha Raddatz I thought did a wonderful job -- Sunday evening -- of pointing out the difference between Mike Pence's view on the Syrian issue and what we should be doing in Syria and whether or not that conflicted with what Trump was saying during the debate. And I think that's a very important distinction when you can distinguish something from the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee. So it should be used sparingly, but I think that it should be a tool in the toolkit. And that's what we would ask that Chris Wallace have in his debate next week in Vegas.
ECHEVARRIA: Sunday's debate then, would you say it was used sparingly particularly towards Donald Trump? This idea of interruption then?
BEYCHOK: I think Sunday's debate, as the town hall format, ended up being more of a back and forth between the four of them, two moderators and the candidates, with voters interspersed. So it may have been a little bit more on Sunday than we've seen in the first debate with Holt. And them we'll have to see what we see in the third. But I didn't think that it was overly used and I think both candidates were rightly followed up with facts by the moderators. I don't think that it was -- I know that the Trump team and Trump himself loved to say that he was treated unfairly by the media or by the moderators and it's been his strategy to attack them in advance. It will be interesting if he attacks his favorite network, Fox News, which is the only place that he's appeared in the last month.